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11th URBAN LAW DAY 2024

Effective Urban Laws to Localize the SDGs

The Urban Law Day is a specialised forum aiming to bring together a multidisciplinary circle of academics and practitioners interested in urban legislation, including planners, architects, policy makers, economists, urbanists, and lawyers. The purpose of the Urban Law Day is to facilitate discussion, the exchange of views, networking, and the presentation of new research findings and emerging issues.

The 11th Urban Law Day will take place on Thursday 4 July 2024, and it will be an online event. It will be co-hosted by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (University of London) and UN-Habitat and will focus on localizing the SDGs through effective urban legislation as key drivers of change/SDG transitions for sustainable and inclusive cities.

Purpose and Expected Outcome

This session is timely as several SDGs can only be achieved through effective legislative frameworks and policies. Urban legislation has an important role to play in virtually all targets of SDG 11. It defines conditions for access to land, infrastructure, housing and basic services; lays out rules for planning and decision-making; guides the improvement of livelihoods and living conditions by setting requirements for urban development initiatives; and sets the context within which urban authorities, local governments and communities are expected to fulfil their mandate and react to emerging challenges.  This is also true for SDG 10, as legislation can set meaningful frameworks for sustainable development, or it can accentuate inequalities and exclusion. Effective urban regulatory frameworks are also fundamental to promote climate smart urbanization (SDG 13) as well as promote the rule of law, develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels; and ensure participatory and representative decision-making (SDG 16).

UN-Habitat, with the support of IALS, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, the Commonwealth Association of Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Planners are preparing an SDG legal checklist for cities to assist urban managers in attaining sustainability and resilience by establishing connections across a value chain encompassing, inclusive and evidence-based spatial planning, strengthened tenure security, improved local institutional capacities, and the promotion of environmentally friendly urbanization through climate-focussed human rights. It is hoped that this tool will impact 1,000 cities/1 billion lives by 2030.

The objective of the session is to:

a)       To showcase the SDG cities legal checklist which is aimed to be a user-friendly and accessible diagnostic tool to facilitate the achievement of SDGs in cities and allow for progress tracking and create city awareness on how key legislative frameworks drive sustainability.

b)      Provide a platform to share country/city best practices on how urban laws can promote sustainable urban development especially in resource-poor contexts.

c)       Provide a unique platform to facilitate dialogue and exchange on how to address shortcomings in urban legal frameworks.


The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is part of the School of Advanced Study of the University of London with the mandate to promote research facilitation, advance innovation, and bridge research between academy and the professions. The Institute produces its own high impact research and contributes to the generation and development of high impact research by others. The Institute brings together academic researchers, students, judges and legal practitioners from diverse backgrounds, enabling important opportunities for cross-fertilisation and has leadership involvement in strong networks both discipline-based and spanning geographical and jurisdictional differences.

Through its research projects and programmes the IALS leads and shapes research agendas, facilitates the identification of new research horizons and facilitates debate by providing opportunities and resources for cutting-edge research.

UN-Habitat is the coordinating agency within the United Nations System for human settlement activities and, in collaboration with governments, is responsible for promoting and consolidating collaboration with all partners, including local authorities, private and non-governmental organizations, in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, Goal 11 of “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, as well as the task manager of the human settlements chapter of Agenda 21 and focal point for the monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the New Urban Agenda adopted during the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) held in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016.


Thursday, 4th July 2024 (11:00 – 13:00 EAT)

Note takers: Simon Theo/Danya Sharan, PLGS, UN-Habitat

Moderator: Anne Amin, Legal Specialist, PLGS, UN-Habitat

11:00 - 11:10 – Opening remarks/welcome address

  • Dr Constantin Stefanou, Director – Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (University of London)
  • Dr. Remy Sietchiping, Chief, Policy, Legislation and Governance Section of UN-Habitat

11:10 - 11:25

Sapna Singh, Policy, Legislation and Governance Section, UN-Habitat (SDG Cities Legal Checklist)

Session 1: Panel Discussion/Roundtable: Localizing the SDGs through effective urban laws

11:25 - 12:00 Panel Interventions: (10 mins each)

  • Mr. Hasan Khan, Vice President for the Australasia Hub, Commonwealth Lawyers Association
  • Peter     Oborn, President, Commonwealth Association of Architects
  • Prof Jua Cilliers, President, Commonwealth Association of Planners
  • Prof. Anel du Plessis, Professor of Urban Law, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

12:00 - 12:10 – Discussion/Q&A

Session 2: Case Studies and Knowledge Sharing on Effective Laws

12:10 – 12:40 (10 mins each)

-          Mr. Johnson Okello, Legislative Drafter, the Senate of Kenya

-          Dr. Maria Mousmouti, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, UK

-          Dr. Chantelle Moyo, Environmental Legal Expert & Programme Manager, Konrad Adenauer Foundation Sub-Saharan African Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change.

12:40 - 12:55 – Discussion/Q&A

12:55 - Closing

Download Programme (pdf) HERE

All welcome - this event if free to attend but booking is required.