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UN Conference Sets Agenda for Rethink of How Cities are Planned, Managed and Inhabited

A major conference on the future of the world’s cities and towns, known as Habitat III, wrapped up in Quito, Ecuador, with delegations adopting a new framework that will set the world on a course towards sustainable urban development by rethinking how cities are planned, managed and inhabited, the United Nations announced in a news statement at the conclusion of the gathering.

“We have analyzed and discussed the challenges that our cities are facing and have [agreed] on a common roadmap for the 20 years to come,” Joan Clos, the Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), told the closing plenary of the conference, which had drawn around 36,000 people from 167 different countries for six days last week.

He said that the action-oriented outcome document, known as the New Urban Agenda, enshrined now in the ‘Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All,’ should be seen as an extension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed by 193 Member States of the UN in September 2015.

That Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognized the power of cities and towns, which will constitute up to 70 per cent of the world population by 2050, to be the engine for sustainable growth in the future.

Habitat III brought together mayors, local and regional authorities, civil society and community groups, and urban planners. Mayors said the conference advanced the participation of local authorities in the global effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dennis Codere, Mayor of Montreal, said: “We know that without the involvement of cities and local governments, the world will not be able to address the global challenges of our times.

‘New Urban Agenda’ for green, clean, inclusive cities

“The New Urban Agenda is an ambitious agenda which aims at paving the way towards making cities and human settlements more inclusive,” Clos said, who also served as the Secretary-General of the Conference, adding that it would ensure “everyone can benefit from urbanization, paying particular attention to those in those in vulnerable situations.”

A message for Habitat III from the His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, was recorded on video and played at the conference venue on 19 October 2016.