|The Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) - Sustainable Cities and Local Governance (HABITAT - UNEP, 12 p.)|
The urban environment and local governance has been accorded unparalleled attention in the recent international debate on development. UNCED, the 1992 Earth Summit, will be remembered as the conference in which the world acknowledged the importance of the environment for social and economic development. This was articulated in Agenda 21, which emphasises cross-sectoral coordination, decentralisation of decision-making, and broad-based participatory approaches to development management. UNCED also recognised the potential of the SCP as a vehicle for implementing Agenda 21 at the city level, and recommended strengthening its role in this regard. Habitat II, the City Summit, took this point further in Istanbul in 1996, in a global agenda for cooperation which acknowledges the direct contribution that sustainable cities can make to social and economic development.
In the urban environment, the mandates of UNCHS (Habitat) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) coincide and their scientific, technical, and financial resources are uniquely complementary In the early 1980s the two United Nations agencies were instructed by their governing bodies to jointly prepare Environmental Guidelines for Settlements Planning and Management, then, in the early 1990s, to launch the Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) to put the concepts and approaches of the guidelines into practice; and recently, in 1995, UNCHS's Human Settlements Commission and UNEP's Governing Council instructed that the SCP be transformed into a truly Joint Facility for implementing Agenda 21 at the city-level. Together, the two agencies have utilised the SCP to spearhead the UN's new development paradigm of information sharing through a common conceptual framework.