Rapid urbanization is one of the most important demographic trends of this century. USAID’s success in achieving our core development objectives—eliminating extreme poverty, reducing hunger, improving health, addressing climate change, and fostering democratic, resilient societies— will greatly depend on how we respond to urbanization. Urbanization creates challenges, but it also offers unparalleled opportunities prosperity.
USAID has a long history of addressing urban development, though the focus and intensity of urban programs have varied over time. From the early 1960s through the late 1990s, our urban work focused primarily on public housing programs, later expanding to address urban poverty, health, environment, and governance.
Now, USAID is entering a new era of sustainable urban programming. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, along with USAID’s Urban Policy and the repositioning of a central Urban unit in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment offer new platforms to provide technical guidance and leadership throughout the Agency, and signify commitment at the global and Agency level to respond to this new context. This new era will focus on systems-based, holistic approaches to development that integrate food security, economic growth, health, education, climate change, and resilience programming in a context of urbanization. Partnerships, access to financing, local capacity building at the municipal government level, good data and technology will be central to our efforts. We will also focus on recognizing and improving linkages between cities, towns, and rural communities as part of an interconnected system.