UK aid for sustainable cities

A review assessing UK aid’s support for sustainable cities. 

  1. Status: In progress
  2. Last updated: 22 January 2024
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Climate change and biodiversity, Livelihoods and social protection, Private sector
  5. Case study: Indonesia, South Africa
  6. Lead commissioner: Sir Hugh Bayley
  7. SDGs covered:Sustainable cities and communities

Latest news

We have published the approach for our forthcoming review of UK aid’s support for sustainable cities. 

We expect to publish the findings in June 2024.


Cities and rapid urbanisation are priority areas for global sustainability and central to the United Kingdom’s efforts to address climate change, generate inclusive economic growth and promote sustainability and resilience.  

Recognised as key drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, cities create more than 80% of global GDP. However, with more than two-thirds of the global population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, rapid urbanisation presents challenges to effective poverty reduction, sustainability and resilience to economic and climate shocks.  

Between 2015 and 2022, UK aid support for sustainable cities amounted to £861.3 million and was announced as one of four priority areas in the March 2023 International Climate Finance Strategy. The majority of sustainable cities aid programmes are managed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), with some smaller portfolios managed by other departments. They have a range of objectives, including: climate change mitigation, adaptation, promotion of economic growth, poverty reduction and the development of safe and inclusive cities.  

The review will build on ICAI’s previous work, including its 2018 review of DFID’s transport and urban infrastructure investments and assessments of the UK’s international climate finance commitments. By addressing the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, it will complete ICAI’s coverage of all 17 SDGs under the current phase of the Commission. 

Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals relevant to this review are:

  • Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities


Approach publication

22 January

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Expected June 2024