OECD Secretary-General

Linking up the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda: Remarks at UCLG World Congress plenary session


Remarks by Angel Gurría

Secretary-General, OECD

Bogota, Colombia, 13 October 2016, 



Mayors, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,


It is an honour to join you here today.


This is the metropolitan century. Today, more than 50% of the global population – and two out of three people in the OECD – lives in cities.  By the time the century draws to a close, more than 85% of the people on the planet will live in cities.


This means that if we are to meet the ambitious objectives of the SDGs and make the New Urban Agenda a reality, we must get cities right!  If we want no people left behind, we must ensure that no place is left behind! 


Allow me to share a few thoughts on how we can make this happen.


First, while we welcome SDG 11 with its explicit focus on “Sustainable and Inclusive Cities”, we need to localise all SDGs! For instance, city-level action will be essential, whether we are talking about the SDGs for good health and well-being (#3), quality education (#4), or reduced inequalities (#10). And this is precisely what we show in our new report, Making Cities Work for All – launched here this morning.


Second, the New Urban Agenda reminds us that national urban policy frameworks are instrumental to set the stage for local action. Neither national nor local governments alone can meet the scale of the challenges we face – rising inequalities, climate change, water stress, migration, demographic change, to name a few. 


The OECD has been at the forefront of efforts to bridge the gaps between national and local government policies and public investments.


This means improving policy coherence among levels of government, and aligning objectives across the many domains that affect cities – like housing, transport, economic development and the environment. Next week in Quito we will launch the National Urban Policy Programme and release the new OECD/UN-Habitat report on the “Global State of National Urban Policies”, providing governments with the tools to deliver on the New Urban Agenda.  


It also means ensuring more effective coordination of the investments that will help us deliver on the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda – particularly when you consider that subnational governments across the OECD are responsible for around 60% of public investment! The OECD Principles on Effective Public Investment across Levels of Government helps governments assess the strengths and weaknesses of their public investment capacity and set priorities for improvement.


We’ve now taken this work one step further, with a toolkit to help countries apply these principles in practice. I’m pleased to say that this toolkit has already been applied in the case of Colombia, and the resulting report, Making the Most of Public Investment in Colombia, will be launched later this afternoon.


Third, we need to provide local governments with the financial means and the right intergovernmental financial arrangements to meet the challenges they face. For that, we need the data to assess potential fiscal gaps in relation to their responsibilities. Tomorrow, the OECD will launch a new report with UCLG on the State of Local Finance in 101 Countries – the first such compendium ever to be developed.


Ladies and gentlemen, we must rise to the challenge of improving the lives of billions of new city dwellers. Let us also seize the opportunity to align key international and local agendas to ensure that the metropolitan century is also a century of greater well-being and people-centred prosperity!


Thank you.