In a rapidly evolving urban landscape, traditional methods of addressing interconnected urban challenges are becoming increasingly inadequate. As a result, urban development practitioners are exploring innovative ways of working to tackle systemic urban issues. One such solution is the portfolio approach, a dynamic and multi-faceted strategy that redefines the way we address urban challenges. This approach is seen as complementary to traditional project management, offering an additional tool for tackling more complex problems. But what impact does this new approach have, and is it truly transformative? Our latest publication, City Snapshots, offers a glimpse into these groundbreaking practices, showcasing their application, areas of influence, and potential outcomes. 

Based on the upfront experience of seven UNDP Country Offices, this booklet not only highlights the value of innovative development but also consolidates key learnings to communicate this work to urban practitioners within and beyond these programs and communities. Ultimately, the publication aims to ignite a conversation among diverse stakeholders and teams working on urban transformation, creating a community that will serve as an inspiration and learning space to harness the growing interest for innovation in urban development. 

The portfolio approach itself offers a new way to tackle complex urban challenges, creating a network of intervention options that examine problems from multiple angles, allowing for flexibility and adaptability. Nine municipalities in the Europe and Central Asia region have embraced this approach, demonstrating tangible and significant advantages. This presents an opportunity for other municipalities to explore and implement portfolio practices, opening new possibilities for addressing urban issues. 

City Snapshots is your invitation to explore urban development innovation and discover how these pioneering practices are leading to positive, sustainable outcomes in cities across Europe and Central Asia. 

City Snapshots delves into UNDP Europe and Central Asia’s urban transformation initiatives – City Experiment Fund (CEF) and the Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) – employing the portfolio approach across various cities, contexts, and problem spaces. Funded by the Slovak Transformation Fund, UNDP’s CEF is a joint effort by UNDP and the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic to support cities in applying the innovative portfolio approach to tackle complex urban challenges, while M4EG is a joint EU & UNDP initiative to support mayors and their teams in the Eastern Partnership region. The M4EG offers resources, networks and learning opportunities to explore new trajectories of growth, and to make towns and cities more attractive for people and investment.