During the Soviet Union period new cities and townships in Central Asia were created primarily to meet the needs of the national economic development plan. After gaining independence in 1991, many urban settlements in Central Asian countries faced decline in economic activities and subsequent decreases in local budget revenues, deterioration of urban infrastructure, as well as declining capacities and resources to manage urban development under market conditions. In response, Central Asian countries had to embark on reform of municipal management systems and engender support for social and economic development in urban areas.
Since 2011, Center for Economic Research (CER) with support from ESCAP and UNDP Uzbekistan has been implementing the project on "Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Development", which has provided a platform to share international experiences and case studies for enhancing regional cooperation and cross-boundary information exchange. The first phase of the project focused on issues of urban development in Uzbekistan and resulted in a comprehensive report that was presented during the international workshop held from 5 to 6 July 2011 in Tashkent. In the second phase, the scope was expanded to cover broader aspects of municipal governance and urban planning within the context of sustainable development. Country perspectives and preliminary results of the research were presented and discussed at an international workshop in Tashkent from 9 to 10 October 2012.