In a global and increasingly urbanized world, cities play a key role in building a better future. Cities and local governments must have the skills and tools to manage their resources effectively, to deliver services, to partner with the private sector, and foster economic growth for the betterment of their citizens. Better managed cities with improved services will contribute to the US Government’s objectives to promote peace and security; encourage greater investment in people; support just and democratic governance; and increase economic growth.

The United States’s foreign assistance programs work with the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, and civil society to foster urban productivity. This means building the capacity of poorly managed cities so that they are better equipped to handle the impacts of urban growth. A large part of this is, of course, expanding and improving the delivery of urban services such as water and sanitation. For those cities that may be more advanced, the focus is on harnessing the growth potential of urban markets.

The level of investment required to improve urban environmental infrastructure and to respond to the enormous demand for adequate housing is beyond the scope of donors and governments. Engaging the private sector is necessary in order to bring pilot efforts and programs to scale. By strengthening the capacity of local authorities to manage and govern better, the United States helps build the necessary foundation for increased access to market-oriented finance and to improved urban service delivery. Capacity building programs aimed at increasing the creditworthiness of local governments through improved planning and financial management is a long-term effort that is critical to achieving sustainable results.