United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, “Habitat III”

The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, “Habitat III”, will place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016.   The Conference welcomes the participation and contributions of all Member States and relevant stakeholders, including parliamentarians, civil society organizations, regional and local government and municipality representatives, professionals and researchers, academia, foundations, women and youth groups, trade unions, and the private sector, as well as organizations of the United Nations system and intergovernmental organizations.

Ahead of the conference a series of on-line e-discussions, ‘Urban Dialogues’, are being launched with the aim of integrating all voices and bringing forward new and emerging thinking in the elaboration of the New Urban Agenda.     An online dialogue on the Spatial Development strand started on 6th July 2015 and you can sign up to join: Welcome to “Spatial Development”.

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Ahead of this the United Nations have published a series of Issue Papers including one on Urban and Spatial Planning and Design.   Key issues are summarised along with key drivers for action outlined.  some interesting statistics and data are included such as:

  • Cities currently generate 80% of the global GDP while accommodating over 50% of the world population on 3% of its surface area, with the wealthiest 100 cities generating 35% of global GDP . However, deficient planning and infrastructure can reduce business productivity by as much as 40 per cent
  • The discipline of urban and spatial planning is underrepresented in many developing areas, with 0.97 accredited planners per 100,000 people in some African countries and 0.23 in India. This is compared to 37.63 in the United Kingdom and 12.77 in the United States
  • In 2015, the ‘Global Risk Landscape’ by the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified urban planning failure as a risk factor creating social, environmental and health challenges. The significance of this risk is underlined by the fact that in 2012, more than 60% of the area projected to be urban in 2030 was yet to be built

Habitat III offers an opportunity to discuss the challenge of how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed, in order to fulfill their role as drivers of sustainable development, and hence shape the implementation of new global development and climate change goals.

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