Habitat III: zero draft of the new Urban Agenda points in the right direction
The Habitat III Secretariat just released the zero draft of the new Urban Agenda on May 6. Although the final document will only be adopted at the Habitat III Conference taking place in October 2016 in Quito (Ecuador), the circulated draft does represent a positive first step, in line with the messages of PLATFORMA’s Declaration and the Key Recommendation of the Global Task Force (GTF) for Local and Regional Governments (LRGs).
PLATFORMA particularly welcomes the commitment to expand the opportunities for international cooperation, through city to city, North-South, South-South initiatives. Moreover, the document makes a strong case for effective working partnerships between the national and sub-national governments throughout the entire policy cycle, as well as for providing LRGs with adequate funding to carry out their responsibilities.
However, the zero draft does not sufficiently address the issue of LRGs’ accessibility to sources of Official development assistance (ODA), the majority of which is channelled through international agencies and NGOs, often without much coordination with LRGs in partner countries. PLATFORMA also supports smaller-sized grants and sub-granting schemes, which are much better adapted to LRGs’ capacities and increase the likelihood of successful implementation. Beyond the importance of innovative funding, decentralised cooperation should be recognized as an effective instrument of capacity-building for LRGs.
Moreover, as raised by the GTF’s initial reaction to the zero draft, PLATFORMA would like the draft to include a more far reaching concept of Right to the City in the action part of the document and to explicitly refer to consultation and participation mechanisms for LRGs to engage in the governing bodies of a UN Habitat. Finally, decentralization cannot be dissociated from local democracy, which is largely absent from the draft. The promotion of the latter needs to be at the core of the new Urban Agenda.
The road to Quito will remain one of PLATFORMA’s key priorities for the upcoming months, starting with the Informal Hearings with Local Authorities on 16-17 May in New York. Our representative Andreas Wolter, Vice-Mayor of Cologne (Germany), will be there to raise the profile of decentralized cooperation as an important instrument for the implementation of the new Urban Agenda.