UNITAR Newsletter


The CIFAL Global Network is UNITAR's network of International Training Centres, dedicated to provide innovative training to strengthen the capacities of government officials and leaders to advance sustainable development. Our CIFAL centers are jointly managed with 10 partner institutions and deliver some 70 training activities every year.

March 2014

Executive Director of UNITAR

Empowering Local Governments through Training and Knowledge Exchange

Local government authorities have a critical role in advancing sustainable development and in implementing global agreements on the ground. Central to addressing development challenges is the need for strengthened capacity that empowers government officials to better respond and act. UNITAR's global network of training centres "CIFAL" offer innovative training in key areas of development and foster collaboration amongst government authorities, the private sector and civil society leaders. We invite you to read this newsletter and enjoy each issue which will focus on a particular theme covered by the CIFALs.

Sally Fegan-Wyles
UN Assistant Secretary-General,
Acting Head Executive Director, UNITAR

Mayor of Plock

A message from one of our Partners

The promotion of sustainable development is at the top of our agenda. We also know that in order to address local and global challenges we must learn from others. Plock is delighted to be the host city of UNITAR's training Centre to reach out to other countries, especially in Eastern Europe, from which we might learn best practices and we can share with. CIFAL Plock is our way of reaching out to learn more about what other cities are doing and to share our experiences, successes, challenges and opportunities.

Andrzej Nowakowski
Mayor of Plock, Poland


Editorial: Increased Urbanization

Urbanisation Challenges and the Role of the CIFAL Global Network

Urbanisation is one of the defining trends of our time. The global population is expected to grow from about 50% urban today to about 70% urban by 2050. The great majority of this urban growth is taking place in developing countries, particularly in Asia and Africa.

This unprecedented urban growth poses significant challenges to humanity, such as addressing the higher demand for basic services and infrastructure. Cities must be able to cope with the transport, housing, water supply and sanitation needs of urban populations.

From an environmental perspective, cities are greatly contributing to climate change while at the same time they are becoming primary victims. The intensified human activity in cities is leading to an increased generation of waste, greenhouse gases and other pollution, having a great impact on the environment and accelerating weather and climate hazards. In turn, cities themselves are the ones mostly affected by the induced-risks of climate change, especially due to the large numbers of people living in them. Urban residents, mainly the poor and marginalized ones, are increasingly vulnerable to natural hazards such as tropical storms and flooding.

From a social standpoint, the growth of urban population goes hand in hand with the growth of poor urban population. According to UN-Habitat, a manifestation of urban poverty in the developing world is the proliferation of slums; to date one third of urban population in this part of the world is living in slums. The challenge of these widespread informal settlements is strongly linked to the limited access to basic services and the increased vulnerability to environmental hazards, among others.

Moving onwards to the economic sphere, the growth of urban population poses pressure on the cities' growth and employment capacity, facing constant pressure to be competitive as well as to create jobs.

The CIFAL Global Network acknowledges that in order to address these and other pressing challenges, there is a need for capacity development. The CIFAL centres (CIFALs) provide innovative training in the areas of urban planning and governance, social development, environmental sustainability and economic development. Depending on the geographical location, each CIFAL covers specific themes that are in line with the needs and priorities of the countries and regions they serve.

CIFALs' training initiatives contribute by building capacities of key actors (government authorities, civil society leaders and private sector representatives) to plan and design cities in a sustainable way, improve the provision of public services and infrastructure, promote the creation of jobs, reduce the urban ecological footprint and prepare cities to be resilient to natural hazards, among many others. In doing so, urbanisation is not only acknowledged as a challenge but also as an opportunity.

Cities are engines of economic growth as well as settings that foster innovation and provide opportunities to improve the living standards of people; therefore the cities of the 21st century have the potential to bring sustainable development and global prosperity.


CIFAL Shanghai

Promoting Creative Industries in China

The added-value generated by the creative industries in Shanghai increased from 49.3 to 114.8 billion yuan from 2004 to 2009, contributing to its overall GDP. To promote creative industries and talent through training, CIFAL Shanghai hosted this past January the "Leading Talent Training Programme - Strengthening Shanghai City of Design".

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Enhancing capacities of Afghan ministerial officials

In an effort to strengthen the skills and capacities of Afghan ministerial officials on effective governance and sustainable development, UNITAR's Decentralized Cooperation Programme (DCP) jointly with the Graduate Institute of Geneva has offered the 'Executive Master on Development Policies and Practices'. The 2013-2014 session concluded with the graduation ceremony this February in Geneva.

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Improving Sustainable Food Security in Bangladesh

CIFAL Scotland in collaboration with Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development and Gaia Education have been implementing a project to improve sustainable food security and livelihoods of the vulnerable communities of Khulna and Bagerhat, Southern Bangladesh, through capacity building programmes and effective climate change adaptation strategies. The project was approved for funding by the Scottish Government in May 2013.

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In today's economic and social environment, issues related to social responsibility and sustainability are gaining more importance, especially in the business sector. UNITAR's e-learning course "Introduction to Corporate Social Responsibility" allows participants to acquire relevant knowledge on CSR that will help them and their organizations to better address social responsibility concerns.

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