The UN’s Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the US-based think-tank signed an agreement earlier this month to build the database. It is hoped it will make cities more safe, resilient and sustainable by increasing access to and transparency in municipal fiscal data.
Joan Clos, executive director of UN-Habitat, emphasised the importance of municipal planning and good management and highlighted the value of a three-pronged approach to urbanisation, which links planning, municipal finance and legal frameworks.
He said these factors will be crucial to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which will be set out in October. This is a framework to guide future urbanisation efforts and ensure they work in tandem with development policy.
UN-Habitat said successful enactment of the New Urban Agenda, as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, would hinge on the fiscal health of municipal governments.
By increasing access to and transparency of fiscal data and providing a new online resource to academics, city leaders, private stakeholders and others, it is hoped the database will help identify policies to improve city finances and enable interventions before fiscal stress degrades public services, endangers infrastructure or devolves into a municipal bankruptcy.
The information can also be used to support research and planning professionals charged with assessing the costs and benefits of urbanisation, planning for the expansion and extension of cities and undertaking economic development activities within them.
The pilot database, currently under construction, will cover cities in Asia, Latin America and Africa.