International cooperation for sustainable and better urban development

Project description

Title: International Community of Practice for Sustainable Urban Development
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: global
Lead executing agency: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2013 to 2022


Cities and municipalities throughout the world are facing ever-changing challenges. The growing global population, climate change and increasingly rapid and more intensive urbanisation are just three examples. Addressing these challenges is of key importance in implementing the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda and the goals of the Paris Agreement. For the majority of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda, cities and municipalities play a vital role in achieving sustainable development. Thus cities need to shape the framework for environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically efficient urban development.

To do so, urban stakeholders require practical and appropriate solutions. Yet if they only looked further afield than their own immediate surroundings, they could draw on a global fund of experience and potential approaches. Knowledge and skills in this area need to be shared. This offers great scope for learning from one another and developing solutions to urban challenges together. In particular, the small and medium-sized towns and cities in partner countries of German development cooperation lack access to the expertise and experience of other urban areas. This makes it difficult for the relevant local practitioners to develop appropriate solutions to their specific challenges.


Local practitioners from cities and municipalities throughout the world have developed appropriate solutions to the regionally different challenges of sustainable urban development, drawing on international expertise and experience to do so.


During the first two phases (2013–2018), the project set up Connective Cities, an international network for sustainable development. By offering formats for exchange and learning, Connective Cities mobilises German and international municipal know-how and provides the opportunity to disseminate experience with a practical application and assist cities in formulating concepts, strategies and funding applications for innovative local projects. 

The follow-on measure draws on these results. Thus the project advises local practitioners on applying for financing for their project ideas. Plans have also been made to set up dialogue and learning processes for relevant urban development topics in three selected regions: sub-Saharan Africa, Maghreb and the Middle East, and South-East Europe/Caucasus. The focus will be on the following priority areas: local governance, integrated urban development, economic development and municipal services. The project builds on other development cooperation projects and is also stepping up regional and South-South exchange.

The project takes the form of a partnership between the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the Service Agency Communities in One World and the Association of German Cities.


The project draws on the experience acquired and results achieved during previous project phases:

  • Between 2013 and 2018, learning and change processes were initiated and supported with 364 municipalities in 63 countries. At nearly 40 events and workshops for practitioners, links were forged between more than 2,000 international local practitioners from various parts of the world, attended by more than 250 German municipal experts.
  • A total of 55 project ideas have arisen since the project was launched. Of these, 19 selected change projects have been supported, recommendations have been made in terms of institutional viability and technical feasibility, and financing information has been provided. 

Additional information