3 May 2016: UN Member States, international organizations and stakeholders held a week-long session of Open-Ended Informal Consultative Meetings in preparation for the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). The Meeting aimed to advance discusssions on the New Urban Agenda to be adopted at Habitat III, and to prioritize actions and identify transformative commitments to move towards sustainable cities.
The Meetings convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from 25-29 April 2016.
Habitat III Secretary-General Joan Clos said the New Urban Agenda should complement recent “landmark” UN processes, including:
- the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030
- the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development (FfD)
- the Paris Agreement on climate change
- the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable).
The meeting was organized around: regional perspectives; transformative commitments for sustainable urban development; effective implementation; and how to enhance means of implementation (MOI). Panel discussions examined recommendations and outputs of the ten Habitat III Policy Units, which focus on: the right to the city and cities for all; socio-cultural urban framework; national urban policies; urban governance, capacity and institutional development; municipal finance and local fiscal systems; urban spatial strategies – land market and segregation; urban economic development strategies; urban ecology and resilience; urban services and technology; and housing policies.
Panels took place on the outcomes of the seven Habitat III thematic meetings that have taken place as part of the preparatory process, which focused on: civic engagement; metropolitan areas; intermediate cities; sustainable energy and cities; financing urban development; public spaces; and informal settlements. Another session reviewed the outcomes of the Habitat III regional meeting.
In the closing session, Clos stressed the importance of urbanization for sustainable development, noting that the understanding of development has changed, as well as that of the role of urbanization in promoting prosperity. Meeting Co-Chair Maryse Gautier, France, welcomed the engagement of all stakeholders and summarized key messages from the week, including that: the resource management system is necessary; urban development must take into account the protection and maintenance of cultural heritage to ensure inclusive cities; informal sectors must be taken into account during spatial planning; and finance must be further mobilized.
Earlier in the month, the final regional meeting for Habitat III took place in Toluca, Mexico, from 18-20 April 2016, with a focus on priority issues for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The meeting resulted in the Toluca Declaration, which will serve as input to the New Urban Agenda. The Toluca Declaration proposes that the following issues be addressed in the New Urban Agenda: urban and territorial planning; urban governance; adequate housing; water and sanitation; sustainable mobility; land management; and environment, climate change and resilience.
The New Urban Governance
The Declaration calls for a new generation of national urban policies built on a new urbanization paradigm that promotes accessibility, adequate housing, equity, security, mobility and cultural identity. It further identifies elements for implementation of the New Urban Agenda at the national and local levels, including: developing innovative models of multi-level governance; promoting institutional solidity, professionalism, transparency and accountability in urban management; establishing spaces for citizens to participate in urban development; promoting sub-national financing mechanisms; and using information technology and communications in public decision making.