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Cities in the Commonwealth of Independent States face many challenges

Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)  chose largely different models of political and economic reforms in the transition from a planned to a market economy over the period 1996- 2014. This led to the emergence of different demographic and urbanisation dynamics, with countries experiencing  a rise in the share of urban population (Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russian Federation and Azerbaijan), while in others (Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan), the proportion of urban population decreased because of deindustrialisation and outmigration from cities to rural areas due to unemployment.

There are also differences between the CIS countries in their demographics situations. In Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan the median age of the population is 26 years; young people constitute 40-50 per cent of the population. On the other hand, Armenia, Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine experience a rapid ageing of the population due to low birth rates, high mortality and active outmigration of the working population (with the exception of Russia) to other countries in search of work.  

These trends were summarised in the publication “CIS Cities: Towards a Sustainable Future” launched by UN-Habitat, UNECE and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Inter-Governmental Council for Cooperation in Construction Activities, at the Habitat III Europe Regional Meeting “European Habitat” in Prague. The study is based on national reports prepared by the governments of the CIS countries for Habitat III; it includes comprehensive data on housing and urban development and a detailed analysis on trends and challenges in the region. It is also an input into the HABITAT III Regional Report for the UNECE Region.

At the same time, there are also common challenges across the region. These include: the disruption of established interstate economic links and consequent difficulties in providing industries with raw materials and energy resources; unclear and overlapping functions and competences of central, regional and local authorities; high concentration of the population and industrial production in the largest and major cities with the simultaneous stagnation of small and medium human settlements (including mono-cities); the exacerbation of traffic problems in capital and major cities; the lack of an effective management and maintenance system for multi-storey housing stock; and growing pressures on the rapidly deteriorating urban infrastructure.

The study clearly shows the need for donors and international organisations to strengthen cooperation with the CIS countries and assistance to many of them to address multiple economic and social challenges in cities and human settlements.

The CIS includes 10 permanent members and one associate member: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan (associate member), Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

For more information, please read the report’s Executive Summary.