City diagnostics are a critical component of success for sustainable urban development projects. A full house gathered at the One UN Pavilion at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador to learn more and exchange ideas.

This side event explored the insights and lessons learnt from the 2015 Global City Scan pilot, which engaged 19 signatory cities. As an online survey and diagnostic tool covering 157 issue areas, the City Scan enables municipal governments to develop a holistic perspective of the challenges facing their city. Assessed through the lens of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact the results provide a valuable base from which to prioritise engagement with the community and plan action.

Professor Ralph Horne, Director, UN Global – Compact Cities Programme, opened the dialogue, setting the context for the need for diagnostic tools within the context of the new urban agenda and global sustainable development agenda.

Katharina Shneider-Roos, Deputy Executive Director, Global Infrastructure Basel, spoke about the SURE Standard, developed by Global Infrastructure Basel and its relationship with the SDGs and the NUA. This global voluntary standard which integrates sustainability and resilience aspects into infrastructure development and upgrade aims to meet the challenge of designing, implementing and financing sustainable and resilient infrastructure projects.

Sandra Moye, Research Associate, UN Global – Compact Cities Programme elaborated on the development of the City Scan diagnostic tool and its 2015 international pilot with twenty participant cities of the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme.

Rosemary Viskovic, Senior Policy Advisor, Strategy, Rotorua Lakes Council presented on the “The Rotorua Experience of the City Scan and the related community engagement. This was through the following video and remote link.

Michael Nolan, Chair, UN Global – Compact Cities Programme then spoke of the Mark II version of the City Scan which will be a diagnostic centrepiece to partnership projects for Sustainable Urban Development.

A group dialogue followed focused on diagnostic tools and their role in informing collaborative action and partnership projects. Professor Ralph Horne, Director, UN Global – Compact Cities Programme spoke on Ethical Cities . This was a prelude to the launch of the ‘Ethical Cities’ Massive Open Online Course. (MOOC) 

 Recommendations from the discussions

“As a way of summary, City Scan gives a holistic perspective of the challenges that a city faces, the required policies and initiatives to drive improvement, and highlight successful initiatives and best practices,” said Sandra Moye. “But the value is in the multi-department collaborative process of assessment where governments understand of their challenges and opportunities as critical components in a bigger picture and strengthen key partnerships to collaborate in local projects for sustainable urban development.”

It is essential to have a platform from which to meet the challenge of designing, implementing and financing sustainable and resilient infrastructure and other urban projects.

Ongoing review and further development of these tools will lead to

  • Further alignment with SGDs and the New Urban Agenda
  • Improved platforms usability
  • Training and guidance for participants
  • Improve communication of cities’ priorities and critical issues

The Future of City Scan

The City Scan and other diagnostics will be embedded in an overall 2 year process to generate collaborative high-impact projects, a process for sustainable urban development advocated by the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme and other UN agencies and international funders.

Aligned to the NUA and SDGs, and integrating the Cities Programme’s cross-sectoral model, City Scan II will be introduced into core project processes. It engages government, private sector and civil society in the diagnostic assessment and response. This enables a shared understanding of region-specific challenges and provides a foundation for public-private partnerships to develop and deliver innovative urban sustainable development projects. In 2017 it will be offered globally as an innovative collaborative platform for New Urban Agenda (NUA) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) delivery.

There are discussions around a number of potential partnerships related to city diagnostics and sustainable urban development projects.




The side event was also supported by the Global Voices delegation who welcomed participants, distributed literature and provided photography services.



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