Regional development

Urban Development


Urban policies for an increasingly urban world

Urban issues are increasingly prominent on national policy agendas. Cities and metropolitan areas are major contributors to national economies and play a key role as nodes in global markets. Moreover, at a time of deepening globalisation and increasing international competition for investment, metropolitan regions have become the targets of a wide range of public interventions. As a result, throughout the OECD, urban development policies seek to address a range of issues – from managing urban expansion and congestion to fostering competitiveness, innovation, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.


More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. This share is projected to keep growing, even in OECD countries

 Graphic showing population growth in developing and OECD countries

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, CD-ROM Edition.

OECD work on cities

A leading international forum for discussion and knowledge exchange, the OECD is at the forefront of research and analysis on urban development.



How can cities be most effective in tackling climate change and achieving greener growth? How can ports be an asset for urban development? What links can be fostered between urban and rural areas to boost a region’s economic potential? How can cities adapt to demographic change? Recent OECD work explores these questions in detail. 


The OECD Roundtable is the pre-eminent international forum for policy dialogue on urban issues between local and national leaders. The Sixth OECD Roundtable took place in Mexico City on 16 October 2015.

Highlights from the 2013 Roundtable in Marseille: Why should mayors and ministers meet to discuss urban issues?   



How does your city compare to over 281 of its international peers? The OECD Metro Database and Metro eXplorer provide comparable international data for urban and metro areas relating to GDP, CO2 emissions, sprawl, innovation and more.


What policies can help cities and metropolitan areas become more competitive, sustainable and inclusive over the long term? The OECD conducts in-depth analyses of national-level policies related to urban development, as well as reviews of cities and metro areas, to evaluate current policies and propose strategies for boosting economic growth, improving environmental performance and fostering social inclusion.

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