Steering the Metropolises to Shared Prosperity Based on Policy Evidence: The City Prosperity Initiative


Cities underpin profound social, political, and economic transformations. UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report 2016 emphasizes that large and small cities are expanding and merging to create urban settlements in the form of city-regions, urban corridors, and mega-regions that are more economically efficient. However, very often these large agglomerations are not clearly coordinated in their management and governance mechanisms or in their regional and metropolitan structures. Global trends such as urban sprawl, the drastic reduction of residential densities, and unplanned urban growth are further threatening the economic performance of metropolises. In this scenario, UN-Habitat’s City Prosperity Initiative (CPI) provides indices and measurements that enable city authorities, as well as local and national stakeholders, to identify opportunities and potential areas of intervention for their cities to become more prosperous. The CPI can put metropolitan areas in a strong position to devise a systematic, data driven local approach to current urbanization issues.

Cities and metropolitan areas benefit differently from the economies of agglomeration. Working with a large number of urban agglomerations, the CPI is able to provide a wealth of information needed to understand the dynamics of metropolitan prosperity and address the major impediments for metropolises to improve economic outcomes and quality of life for their inhabitants. The policy factors underlying the prosperity of cities are multifaceted and there is a need for appropriate metropolitan planning and management strategies that can enhance economies of agglomeration and reduce their negative externalities. The findings show that metropolitan prosperity, measured by the CPI, not only results from the addition of the municipal CPIs that compose the urban agglomeration, but also stems from a form of multiplication that takes place, enhancing the prosperity of the overall agglomeration.


Eduardo López Moreno is the Director of Research and Capacity Development at UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme headquartered in Nairobi. He has over 25 years of academic and professional experience in housing and urban development policies, institutional analysis, global monitoring, and equity and urban poverty issues. He holds a Ph.D. in urban geography and a Master’s Degree in urban sociology from the University of Paris III - Sorbonne in France. He published extensively, including five books on topics related to social housing, land policies, equity, and urban development. López Moreno is the Task Manager and principal author of the UN-Habitat State of the World’s Cities Report.

Regina Orvañanos Murguía is the Coordinator of the City Prosperity Initiative at UN-Habitat. She is an architect and M.Sc. in international cooperation and urban development with work experience in Kenya, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Mexico in the fields of global urban monitoring, inequality, spatial planning, sustainable urban mobility, and public space rehabilitation. Prior to UN-Habitat, Orvañanos worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as well as with non-profit organizations on the advocacy of policies for more sustainable cities.