HABITAT III

HABITAT III

habitat-iiiHabitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, taking place in Quito, Ecuador, 17–20 October 2016.

In the Prague conference the discussions covered various topics, and in the Prague declaration they noted the importance of promoting:

  • Innovative and productive cities.
  • Green, compact, resource efficient and resilient cities.
  • Inclusive and safe cities.
  • Good urban governance.

They point out a need to plan and manage urban areas through the cooperation of national governments with regional and local authorities and communities with established coordination mechanism. Cities need to be enabled and empowered in order to be key actors in the implementation of sustainable urban development based on the principles of sustainable development. Citizens should be involved and consulted in a well-designed system of multi-level governance. There is also a need to assure compliance to legal requirements by independent institutions acting in land governance, land registration. International cooperation and exchanges between national, regional and local authorities can promote sustainable economic development, social and environment protection. Social cohesion, better access to services, urban safety. Long term and non-speculative, risk informed investments in housing and urban development can stimulate employment in cities. Resource efficiency and promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns are critical elements for cities to manage growth, increase resource productivity, and decouple economic growth from increased resource use and its environmental impact. Efforts to protect and safeguard the cultural and natural heritage. Promote economic development and job creation.

The following step was Barcelona where the main topic was public spaces. From the Barcelona Declaration came out that:

  • Human rights are a key to advancing and developing an urbanization that is sustainable and socially inclusive, that promotes equality, combats discrimination in all its forms and empowers individuals and communities.
  • The Right to the City is a new paradigm that provides an alternative framework to re-think cities and urbanization.
  • There is a need to preserve the character and quality of existing historical public areas, in order to promote and to transmit heritage to the future generations; improve existing public areas in central and peripheral parts of the city, in order to upgrade their quality and foster the sense of belonging of the communities; design new public spaces in built areas and in new urban expansions, to increase the quality of life of the inhabitants and strengthen social stability.

They focus on public spaces because in an even more urbanized world, the right to the city must be guaranteed to the people who share the urban space today and to the coming generations who are going to inherit it tomorrow. In order for the public space to respond to its true purpose and be at the service of the people and achieve the democratization of our cities, it should be tackled from an integrated logic which goes beyond its own physical boundaries and address fundamental dimensions such as 1) “Agora” (its social and political dimension), 2) Mobility, 3) Economy, 4) Housing.

  • AGORA (social and political dimension)
    • Accessibility and inclusivity
    • Versatility
    • Quality design, environmental and human scale
    • Distribution and integration
    • Recreation and health
    • Cultural and political expression
    • Conflict resolution and cohabitation
    • Governance
  • ECONOMY
    • Sustainability and democratic control of basic urban supplies and waste
    • Balance production of wealth and responsible consumption
  • MOBILITY
    • Change of paradigm towards a Post-Car-City
    • Fostering walkability and bike use on a more human public space
    • Implementing democratic and sustainable of public transport networks
  • HOUSING
    • Right to adequate housing
    • Social function of land, property and city
    • Housing policies and tools

After Barcelona the meeting moved to Pretoria. There the main topic was “Informal Settlements”. Informal settlements are a global urban phenomenon. They exist in urban contexts all over the world, in various forms and typologies, dimensions, locations. While urban informality is more present in cities in developing countries, housing informality and substandard living conditions can also be found in developed countries. The continued existence of informal settlements is directly linked to the persistence of poverty and inequality, distorted land markets, excluding people from decent work and livelihood to attain individual and collective progress and prosperity. Informal settlements are caused by a range of interrelated factors: population growth and rural to urban and international migration, poverty, basic service deficits, poor governance and policy frameworks, limited access to financial markets, land and property. People living in informal settlements are particularly vulnerable to spatial, social, and economic inequalities, dependence on precarious income generation and livelihoods, poor health as well as lack of affordable housing, high vulnerability to the adverse impacts of poor and exposed environments, climate change, and natural disasters. Exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation characterize the life in informal settlements which is exacerbated by displacements, including the one caused by conflict, crisis, natural disasters and climate change.

The recently adopted Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and especially a new transformative urban agenda will have to address the above challenges taking stock of the shortcomings and achievements of the previous development frameworks and approaches.

This process is aimed at producing the New Urban Agenda composed of 22 issue papers about housing and sustainable urban development. Smart technologies and urban governance are new models of participation with social media.

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Habitat III è la Conferenza delle Nazioni Unite sui temi di housing e sustainable urban development che si terrà a Quito in Ecuador  in Ottobre 2016. Nella conferenza di Praga i temi evidenziati, che fanno da filo conduttore, sono: città innovative e produttive; il verde pubblico e le città resilienti; città inclusive e sicure; buona governance urbana. Fondamentale il tema della cooperazione tra i cittadini e i governi nazionali, regionali e locali. Praga è solo una delle numerose tappe di questo processo che porteranno alla conferenza di Quito.