Habitat III is a major summit that outlines the commitment of the global community towards the sustainable development of towns, cities and other human settlements, both rural and urban. Habitat III is a UN wide initiative and in the 2016 Habitat III held in Quito, Ecuador, the international community discussed the understanding of the problems and opportunities posed by current trends in urbanization which included poverty, quality of life, environmental degradation, climate change and other concerns on the one hand, as well as the economic, social and creative boons provided by cities on the other.
The Non-Aligned Movement in keeping with the declaration adopted at the 17th NAM Summit in Venezuela actively participated in Habitat III at Quito and reaffirmed their commitment to actively participate towards the realisation of the New Urban Agenda. The New Urban Agenda reaffirms the global commitment to sustainable urban development as a critical step for realizing sustainable development in an integrated and coordinated manner at global, regional, national, sub-national, and local levels, with the participation of all relevant actors. The implementation of the New Urban Agenda contributes to the implementation and localization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in an integrated manner, and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets, including SDG 11 of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
Heads of State or Government of NAM Member States have expressed their confidence that the Habitat III outcome document, the New Urban Agenda, which aims to be concise, action oriented, forward looking, universal and spatially integrative document recognizing distinct globally evolving trends in order to face the current challenges of sustainable urban development, must provide renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development and to conceive/rethink cities and human settlements, through people-centered approach, to be accessible for all, to reduce inequalities and insecurity and promote inclusive sustainable economic growth in harmony with nature.
Many NAM Member States have played an important role in the implementation of the Habitat III objectives. Quito, the capital of Ecuador received accolades in the past for being a leader in planning for climate change-related adaptation, while the current government has put housing and quality of life at the centre of its development approach. The Ecuadorian government views the New Urban Agenda as a massive opportunity to bring the views of Latin America and the Global South together with a new international commitment to sustainable development. Indonesia hosted the third Preparatory Committee of the Habitat III, in July 2016, a responsibility that put the country at the forefront of engaged member state, and this was acknowledged and appreciated in the final document of the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
India, an important NAM Member State, has recognised the global initiatives on urbanisation as encapsulated in the New Urban Agenda. India explicitly recognizes the role and importance of urbanization and cities in the process of its socio-economic transformation, and affirms its commitment to the larger goals of urban equity and eradication of poverty; inclusive urban prosperity and opportunities for all; productivity, competitiveness, diversification and innovation; and urban resilience. India plans to reinforce the urbanization process that would make cities work towards greater productivity, inclusion, sustainability, and rural-urban linkages. This entails putting in place integrated and coherent urban policies consistent with the principle of cooperative federalism; harmonizing agglomeration economies with focus on the promotion of compact and cluster urban development within a regional, rural-urban framework; harnessing rural-urban continuum; promoting inclusive urban development, interalia, comprising universalization of basic services, social cohesion, and strategies for reducing working poverty; recognize and actively promote the centrality of sustainability in urban policy; empower municipalities and other local-level institutions; strengthen housing-finance systems; enhance access to social justice and gender equity; and development of a robust urban information system. NAM Member States thus recognize the role of Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda in meeting the challenges of urbanization, and acknowledge the potential to eliminate universal problems of poverty, development, unemployment, inequality, climate change, energy efficiency, and violence, thereby developing stronger, more functional cities.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor