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There is a growing interest among national governments and international agencies in the contribution of urban centres to sustainable development. The paper outlines the new global agendas to guide this: the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda. It then sets out the key challenges and opportunities facing urban governments across the Commonwealth in implementing these agendas and achieving inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities. This is hampered by significant infrastructure deficits (especially in provision for water and sanitation) and a lack of funding. After outlining the commitments agreed by national governments in these global agendas, the paper discusses the vital role in meeting these of city leadership, financing and investment, urban planning and local economic development. Whilst it is good to see recognition of the importance of cities to national economies, economic success in any city does not automatically contribute to a healthier city, a more inclusive city or a sustainable city. This needs capable and accountable urban governments working closely with local civil society, and the redirection of public funds and development assistance to support them.
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