New piece by CUP’s Sue Parnell in Science

Prof Parnell has an editorial, co-authored by Michele Acuto, in Science (

“Close to 4 billion people live in cities. As the driver of environmental challenges, accounting for nearly 70% of the world’s carbon emissions, and as sites of critical social disparities, with 863 million dwellers now living in slums, urban settlements are at the heart of global change. This momentum is unlikely to disappear, as approximately 70 million more people will move to cities by the end of this year alone. The good news is that recent multilateral processes are now appreciating this key role of cities and are increasingly prioritizing urban concerns in policy-making. Yet, how can we ensure that these steps toward a global urban governance leave no city, town, or urban dweller behind?”

The article argues that there is a real and pressing need for better data to achieve global urban goals: “Data-gathering capacity is underdeveloped, weak, or dysfunctional in many parts of the world. Building credi- ble local data systems requires strong governmental data institutions and university-city collaborations that, with the increasing influence of large private-sector interest and capacity, are rarely in place. Africa, Asia, and Latin America are especially data (infrastructure) poor. There is no consensus on who should set metrics, who might generate and monitor data, or what the architecture of the science-policy interface underpinning global urban governance should be. Implementing a global monitoring mechanism for cities acknowledges that there are trans- national drivers of urban change and embraces the idea that the way all cities are run will determine our com- mon future. If the Post-2030 Agenda logic of “leave no one behind” is to incorporate the logic of “leave no city behind,” then fundamental attention to fair, accessible, and effective monitoring and mechanisms is imperative.”


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