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As the Asia-Pacific region grows increasingly urbanized, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 is a comprehensive and action-oriented blueprint for advancing sustainable cities and communities. It proposes to readdress how we plan, finance, develop, govern and manage cities and human settlements in line with the New Urban Agenda. In essence, SDG 11 acts as a strategic lever to achieve the SDGs by emphasizing and guiding local action. These actions are more important than ever as the region recovers from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic while struggling to adapt to multiple interlinked crises.

The lack of spatial, granular qualitative, and quantitative urban data affects the creation of evidence-based policies and programmes designed to respond to urban dynamics and related challenges. The lack of data also undermines efforts towards meeting the 'leave no one' behind promise. As countries and cities move towards increased decentralization and localized decision-making, the need for strengthening local data systems, such as urban observatories that support the tracking of local progress to citizens and national authorities, has grown.

The key areas of progress include improvements in air quality and the proportion of those living in slums, along with the growing adoption of national and local disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies. However, this progress is contrasted by significant regressions in persons missing or affected by disasters, economic loss, and damage to infrastructure and services. Road safety measures also remain suboptimal in the Asia-Pacific region.