Mainstreaming Crosscutting issues

Crosscutting issues are issues that touch on general principles that should be considered at every stage of the strategy process[1]. They include those whose relevance or importance is not restricted solely to one sector but which transcend or “cut across” multiple sectors. For example, the consequences of climate change are not limited to just the environment but have an impact on all aspects of urban development, such as planning, economic development and housing.

This toolkit recommends mainstreaming of certain important crosscutting issues in each step of strategic planning. This means that users must take into account crosscutting issues in each phase of the planning cycle. The mainstreaming effort serves to strengthen programmatic synergies while ensuring that project outcomes reach all intended beneficiaries, particularly persons in vulnerable situations[2]. It also implies that users conduct relevant analyses and studies as a basis for integrating a crosscutting issue into the design of their policies and programmes[3].


Crosscutting issues in this toolkit

Crosscutting issues in this toolkit include poverty reduction, gender, and resilience. All three need to be integrated in every stage of the planning cycle. Reference is made to planning frameworks and resources that highlight these issues.

In the case of both gender and the urban poor, an overall goal applies: to achieve “well-planned, well-governed and efficient cities and other human settlements with adequate infrastructure and universal access to employment, land, public space and basic services, including housing, water, sanitation, energy and transport, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination among and between all social groups”[4]. Resilience is focused on the ability of cities to operate in the event of risks associated with climate change, such as floods and landslides, but it is also a relevant concept to consider vulnerability to closing of a major employment source.

Where relevant in this toolkit, references will appear that will advise cities how they can integrate poverty reduction measures, gender and resilience into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of their CDS proposals.  These are not the only crosscutting themes possible, but are taken as examples. To cover all possible themes would make this toolkit very long.


Mainstreaming gender

“Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implication for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality”[5].


Mainstreaming resilience is a computer-based platform and an analysis and decision-support tool, that allows users to accurately model resource flows, for example, energy, food and water, so that city-regions can manage both their economy and critical supporting ecosystems. It is a tool that allows city-regions globally to assess their current development path and map out a more sustainable and resilient trajectory. It is intended for use for planning, investment and policy-making, to embed resilience within regions in the long-term, as opposed to short-term incident response management.


[1] VNG International, 2010. Municipal development strategy process : a toolkit for practitioners, p.13. [Accessed 29 August 2016].

[2] UN-Habitat, 2015a. Cross-cutting issues progress report, p.10-11. [Accessed 8 July 2016].

[3] OECD, 2014. Maintreaming cross-cutting issues : 7 lessons from DAC peer reviews, p.7. [Accessed 08 July 2016].

[4] UN-Habitat, 2015b. UN-Habitat policy and plan for gender equality and the empowerment of women in urban development and human settlements : 2014-2019, p.40 [Accessed 10 July 2016].

[5] UN-Habitat 2015b: p.39 [Accessed 10 July 2016].