The central objective of the European Community's development co-operation policy is poverty reduction and ultimately its eradication, through sustainable development and the progressive integration of Third World countries into the global economy. In this context, a co-operation framework needs to be tailored to the individual circumstances of each country. This can be achieved by identifying strategies that provide links, in practical ways, with how development programmes are formulated and run. There is also a need to promote local ownership and social reform, the integration of the private sector and civil society into the urban development process. These are the main objectives of sustainable urban development.

These Guidelines for the European Union's Sustainable Urban Development Co-operation represent and important step in efforts to improve conditions in towns and cities. European Union partners in Third World countries confront these issues critically.

The Guidelines have been developed in consultation with the Expert Group on Urban Development from Member States and the Urban Development Reference Group of the European Commission. They give emphasis to the need for responsive, participatory and transparent urban governance and effective and efficient urban management.

The Guidelines provide practical advice to practitioners involved in the process of urban development, within third World countries. Practitioners include professional staff of the European Commission headquarters and delegations and their consultants, as well as staff of partner country organisations.

The basic objectives of the Guidelines are to provide a framework for effective support for urban development and to create sectoral projects in urban areas to improve their overall performance and impact. The guidelines demonstrate that investment of co-operation funds in urban development can contribute effectively to both, urban and national development. Similarly, co-operation in sectoral projects, such as transport, water and sanitation, within towns and cities can have a greater impact on a wider scale than just one of the sectors. Moreover, by following the guidelines for the formulation and appraisal of urban and sectoral projects, implementation, monitoring and evaluation become easier to undertake.

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