Nearly 170 countries adopt strategy on sustainable cities

The New Urban Agenda has been unanimously adopted at the Habitat III conference in Quito. Around 36,000 people from 167 different countries met last week to analyse and discuss the challenges facing cities.

Last week’s Habitat III conference came to a successful end on Friday when 167 countries unanimously adopted the New Urban Agenda. The UN’s 20-year global strategy on sustainable urban development aims to make cities and human settlements safer, resilient and more sustainable places based on improved planning and development.

According to a UN statement, the document’s key provisions include cleaner cities; strengthening resilience and reducing carbon emissions; improving connectivity and green initiatives; and promoting safe and accessible green public spaces. It also calls for equal opportunities for all, an end to discrimination, and respecting the rights of migrants and refugees.

But the New Urban Agenda has been strongly criticised for failing to include specific actions on how to achieve these goals as well as a lack of mechanisms to monitor or review progress on implementing its vision, as Gregory Scruggs and Carey L. Biron wrote for citiscope.

And unlike the Paris Agreement on climate change or even the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda has failed to generate political momentum. Few high-level political figures showed up in Quito, leading some to wonder if national governments and the private sector are serious about implementing it.

Even the secretary general of the conference and executive director of UN-Habitat, Joan Clos, seemed to recognise this when he said that the hard work of making the New Urban Agenda a reality needs to begin now: “If we don’t implement, it’s going to be useless,” he said.


Image credit: © Julius Mwelu/UN-Habitat

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