Other Group

Cities Alliance




International Development Organization

Parent Organization:

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

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The Cities Alliance is an international development organization operated by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) that provides funding and assistance to cities in the developing world with the goal of upgrading informal settlements, also referred to by the organizations as “slums.” The organization operates a collective fund that is contributed to by nonprofit development and humanities organizations, United Nations institutions, local governments, and the governments of developed nations.

The organization aims to alleviate urban poverty and is funded by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and others. Organizational members of the group include Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Habitat for Humanity, and the International Institute for Environment and Development. 1 2 3


The Cities Alliance is a global association of development organizations that pool funds to provide funding to city development in the developing world to upgrade slums to more permanent forms of housing. The group uses the tagline “cities without slums” on its branding. The organization was launched by the World Bank and the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (UN-Habitat) and initially funded by additional founding members including the development agencies and foreign ministries of countries including the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and others. Four associations of local authorities including the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), United Towns Organization (UTO), Metropolis, and World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination (WACLAC). 4

From 1999 until 2013, the Cities Alliance was operated by the World Bank through a secretariat based at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. until the World Bank ended its fiscal sponsorship of the organization. It was relocated to the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS) in 2013 following a selection process driven by the group’s partners. The UNOPS is a United Nations-affiliated organization that was originally part of the UN Development Programme and since 1995 has been the UN agency dedicated to implementing infrastructure and procurement projects for the UN system of organizations. 5 6


The Cities Alliance has a variety of programs and funding efforts to direct funds from its portfolio and implement campaigns that assist in upgrading existing informal settlements in major developing cities as well as implementing infrastructure in secondary cities where a population boom has yet to be seen. The organization has promoted a variety of campaigns regarding promoting left-of-center environmentalist policy and ideology, stating that “Over the past 10 years, most cities have become more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which disproportionately affects communities living on unsafe land,” and further stating that the “global COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these longstanding challenges and inequalities and massively impacted the most marginalized citizens, through income loss, lack of access to basic services, food insecurity, and increased violence against women and girls.” 7

The group also funds efforts to implement city-wide actions to fulfill international climate commitments including the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sendai Framework, and the New Urban Agenda. 8


The Cities Alliance has several members that fund and direct its efforts, including the governments of France, Germany, Ghana, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Intergovernmental organizations that fund the group include UNICEF, UN Habitat, UNCDF, and the World Bank. NGOs that are members of the group include Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Habitat for Humanity, and the International Institute for Environment and Development. 9


  1. “Overview.” Cities Alliance. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.citiesalliance.org/who-we-are/about-cities-alliance/overview
  2. “Overview.” Cities Alliance. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.citiesalliance.org/
  3. “Sustainable Cities.” Cities Alliance. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.citiesalliance.org/resources/publications/global-knowledge/sustainable-cities
  4. Mukhija, Vinit. “Challenges for international development planning: Preliminary lessons from the case of the Cities Alliance.” Science Direct. 2005. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0264275105001241?via%3Dihub
  5. “UNOPS to support urban development partnership” UNOPS. March 14, 2013. Accessed via wayback machine September 30, 2023. https://web.archive.org/web/20160304025115/https://www.unops.org/english/News/Pages/UNOPS-to-support-urban-development-partnership.aspx
  6. “Our Story.” UNOPS. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.unops.org/about/our-story
  7. “Cities Alliance New Strategic Plan 2022-2025.” Cities Alliance, 2022. https://www.citiesalliance.org/resources/publications/corporate-documents/cities-alliance-new-strategic-plan-2022-2025
  8. “Climate Change Resilience and Informality.” Cities Alliance. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.citiesalliance.org/how-we-work/global-programmes/climate-change-resilience-and-informality/overview
  9. “Overview.” Cities Alliance. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://www.citiesalliance.org/who-we-are/about-cities-alliance/overview
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