SDSN Partners with the Penn Institute for Urban Research to establish a Global Commission for Urban SDG Finance

SDSN recently partnered with The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) to produce a Global Commission for Urban SDG Finance.

The Commission, which is co-chaired by Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN; Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, France; and Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is composed of 20-25 mayors, finance and urban experts, and scholars to address the critical situation of urban Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Finance. A Secretariat, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of Penn IUR Co-Director and Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research and Education, Eugénie L. Birch; Penn IUR Faculty Fellow and Professor, Penn Carey Law, William Burke-White; and Penn IUR Fellow and former mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas, will support the Commission.

“This Commission is critical to providing the capital needed to address climate change in cities,” said Penn IUR Co-Director, Eugénie L. Birch. “Penn IUR is pleased to support this effort with research and reports that will offer technical and policy recommendations to inform policymakers and transform urban finance.”

The Commission launch occurred at a meeting hosted by Mayor Hidalgo in advance of President Emmanuel Macron’s Summit for a New Global Financial Pact on June 22-23, 2023. The Commission has a mandate to harness the insights of climate and finance experts, mayors, practitioners, and scholars to develop and champion innovative ideas and solutions for increasing urban SDG finance.

“Progress in addressing the SDGs is being hampered by cities’ lack of access to international legal and institutional structures. The Commission will help determine how to best unlock financing sources for the benefit of cities in light of a state-centric international finance system,” said Penn IUR Faculty Fellow and Professor, Penn Carey Law, William Burke-White.

The Commission will assign Task Forces to analyze barriers to urban SDG finance, evaluate existing proposals to improve urban finance access, and develop new strategies and mechanisms to better align the Global Financial Architecture (GFA) with urban needs. The Task Forces will meet virtually and at aligned events, such as UN Climate Week and COP28.

“The Global Financial Architecture is largely designed by and for nations. The Commission will be an important step in creating financial mechanisms designed for cities,” said Penn IUR Fellow and former mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas.

By Spring 2024, the Commission will produce a number of outcomes, including a final SDSN Commission report proposing actionable reforms to the GFA and new mechanisms to secure urban SDG finance; briefs produced by each task force based on deep research and informed by the comparative perspectives of mayors and finance experts that address the impediments to urban SDG finance; and ancillary materials including scenario-based analysis of options for urban SDG finance.