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Promoting sustainability and equity through Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda

Published on 17 Oct 2016 Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

The U.N. Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development looks to use its New Urban Agenda to establish a common vision for sustainable and equitable urban developments.

UN-Habitat, the formal United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, looks to establish a common vision for sustainable and equitable urban developments. UN Habitat conferences take place every 20 years, with the first two taking place in 1976 and 1996, in Vancouver and Istanbul, respectively.

Habitat III began October 17, 2016, in Quito, Ecuador, and is especially timely in helping the nations of the world align increasing urbanization with the newly entered Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals adopted last year.

With its focus on the nexus of development with sustainability, equity, prosperity, dialogues and partnerships, Habitat III will align significantly with USGBC®’s mission. USGBC participated in the conference with global partners such as the World Resources Institute and ICLEI, advancing our community’s suite of sustainability tools.

The primary goals of Habitat III are to renew nations’ commitments to sustainable urban development and to address new and emerging challenges, resulting in adoption of the New Urban Agenda. The agenda outlines commitments and a common vision for future urban development. The culmination of a series of issue papers, the official draft was agreed upon at the Habitat III Informal Intergovernmental Meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 10.

The New Urban Agenda seeks to meet the challenges and opportunities of sustained, inclusive economic growth, leveraging urbanization for structure transformation, high productivity, value-added activities and resource efficiency. It stresses inclusion—across different levels of government as well as in gender.

There is much to like about the New Urban Agenda, which encompasses a broad array of commitments relating to smart cities, protecting ecosystem services, reducing waste, strengthening resilience and resource-efficiency of materials, among others. We see many connections with our suite of tools, and will reinforce these opportunities as the agenda moves forward.

Written by Grant Olear

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