March 2017

Public-private collaboration is key to achieving sustainable urbanization

The global rise of cities has been unprecedented. Every week, nearly 1.5 million people become urban dwellers. By 2050, the urban population will account for more than two-thirds of the world’s population.

In recognition of the new challenges facing cities and the need to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanization, the UN General Assembly convened the United Nations Conferences on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016. The conference resulted in the adoption of the New Urban Agenda, a concise and action-oriented plan that provides a new global strategy for sustainable urban development and housing over the next two decades. Since then, PwC, the World Economic Forum and UN-HABITAT have been actively engaged to strengthen the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. In its report on Harnessing Public-Private Cooperation to Deliver the New Urban Agenda, the Forum highlights the role of the private sector in the delivery of urban infrastructure and services in all aspects of the urban value chain, including policy-making, planning, design, implementation, operation and maintenance, monitoring and the financing of urban service delivery.

The report sets out a number of actions for both the public and private sectors:

Public sector actions
- Engaging the private sector early in the planning and design process
- Adopting a life-cycle approach
- Building on circular and sharing economy concepts
- Articulating clear policies for public-private cooperation
- Demonstrating a strong, stable and visible political commitment
- Developing the appropriate legal and regulatory framework
- Empowering city leadership and strengthening institutional frameworks and capacity
- Using transparent and flexible procurement frameworks
- Establishing a reliable dispute-resolution mechanism

Private sector actions
- Adopting a proactive approach
- Taking a realistic view of urban service delivery projects
- Engaging with local communities for long-term support
- Building public-private cooperation that withstand testing times
- Extending partnerships beyond the obvious

Integrated actions
- Building mutual trust and integrity
- Embracing civil society
- Leveraging technology
- Promoting urban innovations

“Cities are evolving faster than ever and encountering unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic and social challenges. Sustainable urban development is the current global priority; however, most cities lack the capacity and resources to ensure that the city develops in a sustainable manner. Multi-stakeholder cooperation is essential to fill this gap and build transformation strategies to better shape urbanization outcomes and lead cities towards growth, well-being and prosperity for all,” said Alice Charles, Community Lead, Infrastructure and Urban Development, World Economic Forum.

Hazem Galal, PwC Middle East Partner and Global Leader of Cities and Local Government said: “Urbanization dynamics have evolved over time and call for a transition from a business-as-usual approach to one that is highly collaborative, enabling the private sector to co-create and co-design sustainable urban transformation agendas. The Dubai and UAE Governments have continuously collaborated to drive the smart solutions in the Emirate and nationally. Each sector plays its part by prioritizing their actions to reflect their city’s unique context, immediate and long-term priorities, and the created impact to achieve sustainable development.”

“This report featured over 30 successful cases of public-private collaborations from around the world, including the Dubai Smart City Office and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program”, Galal noted.

The Smart Dubai Office is a Dubai government entity aimed at making the Emirate one of the world’s happiest cities. H.E. Dr. Aisha bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai Office said: "Collaboration and unity lies within the foundation of Smart Dubai. Unlike other smart city projects across the globe, Dubai is looking to transform the whole city — not just one district or industry. It would be impossible to accomplish such an ambitious transformation working alone or in silos. A very important part of the Smart Dubai initiative is to unify partners from different government entities, and from the private sector, to get everyone working together towards the same goal. No one entity can make the city smart: we need to leverage the expertise of everyone. A key example of a successful Public-Private Partnership is the Smart Dubai Platform, which we launched in collaboration with leading telecom firm du."

A cross-sector and cross-stakeholder initiative, The Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program (MBRSLP) was developed with the objective of leveraging technological solutions to improve educational services and outcomes in the UAE. H.E. Mohammed Gheyath, Director General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program said: "The Program adds a new UAE mark on the international level, which is in line with the directives of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

H.E Gheyath also revealed that several high-ranked countries in the education sector have visited the Program to learn about the deployment of the Program. Additionally, several future visits are planned to benefit from the UAE’s experience and learn about the Program, which represents a real achievement in the field of education, and accomplish the maximum benefit of technology in the education sector.”

Gheyath stressed on the importance of partnership between the government and private sectors to achieve success in large community initiatives, which requires social awareness on the importance of the initiative and its objectives. He noted that the program has been able to receive the support of the private sector after a directed awareness campaign, to clarify the nature of the program, and the importance of smart learning, which lead to having the full support and partnership of the private sector in the smart transformation process in the country.

The report “Harnessing Public-Private Cooperation to Deliver New Urban Agenda” can be accessed through the following link: