Have UN Member States listened to cities in the latest draft of the New Urban Agenda for Habitat III?
25 July 2016
The latest draft of the New Urban Agenda reveals that the voices of cities and territories are having an impact, but Habitat III must go further if it is not to be a missed opportunity to harness urbanization for sustainable development, says UCLG.
In May of 2016, coinciding with the Habitat III Local Authorities Hearings, global networks of local governments, civil society, and the urban community launched the #Listen2Cities campaign to call on national governments and the international community to listen to cities and territories in the negotiations on the New Urban Agenda.
UCLG invites these local networks to celebrate their influence on the new draft of the Agenda, released on 18 July, and to continue the social media campaign for states to #Listen2Cities at the Third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom3) in Surabaya, the last major opportunity for us to make the voices of local and regional governments heard before the Habitat III Conference in Quito in October.
How the New Urban Agenda is listening to cities
In their reaction to the draft of the New Urban Agenda, the networks of the Global Taskforce welcomed the fact that a number of the priorities of cities and territories have been included in the text, particularly:
- There is increased recognition of the active role that local and regional governments must play in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
- The Agenda has recognized that decisions must be taken as close to citizens as possible, which means giving more powers to local and regional governments.
- The reference to the Right to the City has been maintained in the latest draft, thanks to the pressure from civil society and local and regional governments. Local and regional governments have taken on the Right to the City as the principle that should guide urban development. Its inclusion in the New Urban Agenda will be an important basis from which to promote the Right to the City in the global agenda going forward.
- The Agenda has explicitly recognized the need to strengthen local and regional governments’ capacities in finance, planning, governance, administration and data-management.
- The Agenda has also called for local and regional governments to play an active role in the follow-up and review of the New Urban Agenda, and for reporting to respond to local and national circumstances, capacities, needs, and priorities.
Why cities and territories must continue to raise our voices
- The recognition of the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments as engagement mechanisms is a great step forward. However the New Urban Agenda misses an historic opportunity to include sub-national governments as fully-fledged actors in development policy by giving them a seat at the global decision-making table.
- The Agenda does not yet address the urban and multi-level governance policies that are necessary for transformational change in a context of rapid urbanization. Habitat III risks being a missed opportunity to harness local governance to create inclusive, democratic, sustainable development for all.
- The Agenda fails to make strong and deep enough links between Habitat III and the SDGs, particularly SDG 11 on sustainable cities and human settlements. It is essential that the implementation and monitoring of these agendas are linked up on the ground.
The UCLG World Congress in Bogotá
Whatever the outcome of Habitat III, local and regional governments will continue to collaborate and bring together their experience to draw up a truly transformative Global Agenda of Local and Regional Governments. UCLG will continue to move the policy agenda of local and regional governments forward at its World Congress on the eve of the Habitat III Conference, from 12 to 15 October 2016, in Bogota.
The UCLG Congress will see the presentation of the Fourth Global Report on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD IV), as well as a range of cutting-edge policy debates on the major priorities of local and regional governments across the world.
If you agree that Habitat III should be bolder and #Listen2Cities and territories, let’s tweet your ideas and resources during PrepCom3 in Surabaya from 25-27 July. #Habitat3 #H3PrepCom3
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