By Max Lohmann
After a final round of negotiations, Sept. 7 – 10 at UN Headquarters in New York, the member states agreed on the New Urban Agenda text to be adopted at the Habitat III conference this year, Oct. 17 – 21 in Quito. An agreement on the text was reached during extended negotiations, after a number of outstanding issues remained following the third Preparatory Committee Meeting in late July.
Among the remaining critical issues were: the recognition of the ‘Right to the City’; the future of UN Habitat and the UN system-wide strategy for urbanization; the reference to the COP 21 Paris Agreement; the Rio principle of ‘common, but differentiated responsibilities’; and the Declaration on the Right to Development and the importance of Official Development Aid (ODA). A further controversial issue throughout the negotiations concerned strengthening local authorities through both political and fiscal decentralization. Current standards, such as UN Habitat’s guidelines for decentralization were acknowledged, but not evolved. The draft text of the final agenda is expected to be published on the Habitat III website in the coming days.
The agreement on the final text concludes the two-year preparatory process, and paves the way for a successful conference in Quito next month. Next to the adoption of the final document, the conference is expected to set the stage for implementing the New Urban Agenda. Continuous political attention as well as strong commitments to making urban policies a cornerstone of national and international development efforts will be key for realizing the agenda’s transformative potential. In light of the agreed-upon final document, expectations are high for constructive debate and the launch of implementation-oriented initiatives during the conference.