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The HABITAT III conference: what it is and how to get involved

Within the world(s) of urban policy and research there is much build up to and anticipation of the upcoming HABITAT III conference taking place in Quito from the 17th to 20th October 2016. The full title of the conference is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. HABITAT III takes as its reference points, or building blocks, the outcome of HABITAT II, i.e. the HABITAT Agenda of 1996, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, amongst others.

HABITAT III aims to finalize and adopt the New Urban Agenda, an action-oriented roadmap for implementing sustainable development across cities and human settlements globally in an integrated and coordinated way. Climate change features strongly in the New Urban Agenda. The agenda makes a “transformative commitment” to fostering the resilience and ecological sustainability of cities, including adapting to and mitigating against climate change. The protection, enhancement, expansion and accessibility of green public open spaces in cities are highlighted as one important component of addressing climate change, with many health, well-being and natural resource security co-benefits. Green economic growth is also central to the agenda, with the use of sustainable, low-carbon energy and improved transport, connectivity and mobility (including for the urban poor) identified as key strategies for tackling air pollution, congestion and climate change. The importance of holistic and integrated water planning and management is highlighted, along with proactive disaster risk reduction measures, targeting those most vulnerable. Finally, the importance of, need for and commitment to unlocking and redirecting both public and private finance is given considerable attention within the New Urban Agenda, including explicit mention of mechanisms for sub-national access to climate finance.

Currently there are a number of preparatory consultations underway with numerous constituencies. This is important considering at the heart of the agenda is a commitment to participation, inclusivity and partnerships. To get involved have a look at the current zero order draft of the New Urban Agenda and contribute to the online dialogue. There are also a number of Habitat III Issue Papers summarizing key research areas relating to housing and sustainable urban development, including ones on Cities and Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (Issue Paper 17) and Urban Resilience (Issue Paper 15), that may be of interest and use to many in the weADAPT network.

If you are going to be in Quito for the conference and paying close attention to how issues of climate adaptation are dealt with, please do post updates and insights here in this forum to share with the rest of us!

Best wishes, Anna

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