History of WACAP


The concept of WACAP was first discussed at the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul in 1996, when cities began networking with renewed enthusiasm. That same year, the United Nations International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, UNDP initiated plans for WACAP and launched it on October 17, 1997. Since the first forum in Lyon, France, in 1998, WACAP has expanded its network to more than 900 cities across five continents, raising awareness on poverty issues, promoting city-to-city cooperation and exchanging best practices.


In the 2010 WACAP forum in Rotterdam, the role of the private sector was emphasised and the definition of poverty reduction was extended to sustainable social inclusion, which means everyone should have access to basic provisions such as food, water, energy, education and health care. WACAP will continue in this direction and focus on designing innovative financing through public private partnerships to support developing cities in implementing universal access to basic services.




The World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (WACAP) is a worldwide network of more than 900 cities working together to confront the crises collectively. The Alliance supports its member-cities to mobilise individuals, governments, and all sectors of society to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


WACAP focuses on sustainable social inclusion, providing universal access to basic services in cities, through innovative financing and public private partnerships. It does this in part by providing a knowledge platform for collaboration and innovation. WACAP primary activities include:


  • Connecting municipal officials from every continent with other key players, including United Nations (UN) agencies and their partners, in the fight against poverty.
  • Energising city-to-city cooperation and expanding municipalities’ access to available resources from governments, private sector partners, civil society and UN institutions
  • Mobilising political, economic and social partners to take local and global initiatives
  • Supporting innovations in translating the MDGs into local goals and action plans


As a key initiative of the UNDP Office in Geneva, WACAP differs from other networks in that it:


  1. Is supported by UNDP, the UN’s global development network on the ground in 177 countries and territories, working with governments and people on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.
  2. Is connected to UNDP’s widespread network of partners that links and coordinates global and national efforts to reach the MDGs.
  3. Promotes direct city-to-city or region-to-region partnerships, with UNDP acting as a catalyst in the establishment of decentralised cooperation partnerships between and among municipal and regional governments, civil society, NGOs, academia and the private sector
  4. Concentrates on knowledge and experience sharing that supports local capacity building and innovations.
  5. Advocates innovative financing and public private partnerships.


WACAP supports national policies and local development processes prioritised by the countries themselves to achieve the MDGs. Through WACAP, cities in more developed countries are reaching out to their counterparts in lesser developed countries, eager to share their experiences and innovations in addressing poverty and environmental degradation.


The potential of these partnerships is enormous. Partnership and collaboration between local authorities enable them to tap into a larger pool of resources and experiences while promoting widespread participation in development, drawing in active partners from civil society, NGOs, academia and the private sector.


The increased impetus and energy to create triangular cooperation among traditional donors, emerging donors, and beneficiary cities is at the heart of the WACAP mission and is further enriching international development cooperation. All parties learn from each other as they address specific development challenges. Through WACAP, best practices are shared, replicated and scaled up to benefit everyone.




WACAP’s vision of decentralised cooperation emphasises strengthening the three interdependent aspects of sustainable development in the urban context– the economic, the environmental and the social dimensions. This is most efficiently accomplished through shared responsibility among government, the private sector and civil society.




WACAP’s two-fold strategy to implement this vision:


  1. Reinforce the capacity of cities to improve public service delivery through best practice solutions and through partnerships with other cities
  2. Design innovative financing, through public private partnerships, for developing cities to improve everyone’s access to basic services.

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