New Urban Agenda draft approved

After 38 hours of non-stop negotiations, a new draft for the New Urban Agenda has been approved. The 23-page document is likely to be adopted at the Habitat III summit in Quito, Ecuador next month.

After two years of negotiations and meetings around the world, a final burst of talks at the UN headquarters in New York resulted in consensus on the draft New Urban Agenda. According to a Citiscope article, consensus was only achieved after emergency talks were extended for an additional day, which saw diplomats work non-stop from Friday morning through Saturday night.

The major breakthrough occurred when diplomats were finally able to agree on the role of UN-Habitat, the UN’s lead agency on urbanisation. Until now, the G77 bloc of developing nations wanted the Nairobi-based agency to have primary responsibility for implementing the New Urban Agenda, something that developed world donor countries resisted.

Both sides ended up compromising in the new draft: the G77 bloc conceded that the agency will only be “a focal point on sustainable urbanisation and human settlements” in the UN system, while the developed countries lost their fight to keep the future of UN-Habitat out of the Habitat III debate entirely, reports Citiscope.

Other contentious issues that were eventually resolved include references to refugees and migrants, the right to development, and the notion of “the right to the city”, a concept that has gained widespread support especially in Latin America but which is not enshrined in international law.

“The golden rule is always consensus,” Senegal’s Mamadou Mbodj told Citiscope. “As a member of the [Habitat III] Bureau, I am happy with the result. It’s been two years and a lot of effort.”

Saturday’s achievement raises the likelihood that next month’s Habitat III summit in Quito, Ecuador will be seen as a political success.


Image credit: Freedom II Andres, flickr/Creative Commons

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