Got an urban solution? Submit it to the Habitat III process
With the calendar turned to 2016, momentum is now picking up toward Habitat III, this year’s United Nations conference that will result in a 20-year urbanization strategy called the New Urban Agenda. Ahead of that once-a-generation conference, a major stakeholder initiative is soliciting ideas for inclusion in a key set of recommendations for that strategy.
Specifically, the World Urban Campaign is looking for “urban solutions”, or initiatives, practices, policies, legislation and models that address urban challenges to achieving what the campaign calls The City We Need. Individuals and organizations are now being asked to submit proposed urban solutions to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 February using the following template.
The City We Need is an evolving document that the World Urban Campaign, an initiative of UN-Habitat, has been preparing for several years ahead of Habitat III. (Note: Citiscope is a media partner of the World Urban Campaign.) Its title piggybacks off of the Future We Want, the outcome document from the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, held in 2012.
With the Millennium Development Goals set to expire at the end of 2015, the Rio+20 conference decided that U. N. member states should adopt a new framework — a series of Sustainable Development Goals — to tackle ambitious targets on issues such as poverty, hunger and education. That conference also set in motion a global consultation to solicit ideas on what those goals should be. The landmark result, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, was adopted in September.
If the U. N.’s sustainable development agenda could be described as “the future we want”, then the lead-up to Habitat III should in turn define “the city we need,” organizers felt.
The City We Need 1.0 emerged ahead of the seventh World Urban Forum in Medellín. In the run-up to that April 2014 global gathering of urbanists, the campaign released a manifesto with nine principles. According to that March 2014 document, the city we need is:
Well-planned, walkable and transit-friendly
Regenerative and resilient
Economically vibrant and inclusive
Of a singular identity and sense of place
Affordable and equitable, and
Managed at the metropolitan level.
The City We Need took on additional life in the aftermath of World Urban Forum 7 at the first Urban Thinkers Campus, held later in 2014. At that first-of-its-kind event in Caserta, Italy, the members of the World Urban Campaign realized that The City We Need could evolve with input from around the world ahead of Habitat III.
The campaign thus established a temporary initiative, the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), to gather that input. Today, that process is ongoing through the deliberations of 14 partner constituent groups, representing the breadth of civil society with a stake in Habitat III, as well as a series of more than two dozen Urban Thinkers Campuses, which began in June 2015 and will wrap up early this year.
Both the outcome of the Urban Thinkers Campuses and the new call for Urban Solutions will contribute to the drafting of the next iteration of The City We Need — version 2.0. The document is slated to be presented on 15 March at the next meeting of the World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, in Prague, on the sidelines of the Habitat III Regional Meeting for Europe.
Upon adoption by the campaign, the document will be handed over to the General Assembly of Partners, where it will likely form the basis of that group’s outcome document. Last month, the U. N. General Assembly recognized the GAP as a formal player in the Habitat III process. As such, once the GAP’s outcome document is submitted to the Habitat III secretary-general, it is expected to influence the first draft of the New Urban Agenda, due in April.
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