Habitat III conference, Quito

Habitat III, the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development took place in Quito, Ecuador from Oct 17 – Oct 20, 2016.

The conference, which is held bi-decennially, provided a global platform to discuss a wide range of topics with respect to sustainable development. From all across the world, leaders, ministers, mayors, policy makers, planners, researchers, academicians, representatives of urban local bodies/local government showcased their cutting edge measures to deal with the current and upcoming challenges that are being faced by towns and cities.

As a member of the working team in UXO India (a participant in the conference) – a research centre involved in studying the nature of urbanization globally- I(Suman Kumar) and my colleague Shri Sharad Singhade had the opportunity to attend and represent our work in the conference. It felt like witnessing the Olympics of planning and development.

The various events in the conference included Plenary Sessions, High-level Round table Sessions, Assemblies, Stakeholders Round tables, Policy Dialogues, Urban Talk and Special Sessions.

These sessions were held in a highly interactive environment and involved the participation of enthusiastic urban policy makers, planners, practitioner and academicians all of whom tried their utmost to come up with probable solutions and measures to deal with the issues arising in the improvement of the current urban scenario.

The Conference has led to the adoption of a New Urban Agenda – a concise, focused, forward looking and action oriented outcome document – for setting global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development for the next 20 years.

Our contribution involved the preparation of the Atlas of Urban Expansion: 2016 Edition. It is an open source of information on urbanization trends and developments in the UN sample of 200 global cities.

The Atlas centers around three thematic areas, namely –

  1. Change in urban population and physical expansion
  2. Quality of urban layouts in recent expansion areas, and
  3. Land and housing regulations and housing affordability.

The analysis of the UN sample of cities taken up in the Atlas is expected to benefit the intended users (local and national governments, policy makers, the academic community, and interested individuals) by –

  • Providing a platform for studying urbanization trend in cities and drawing scientifically valid inferences
  • Offering a framework for global and regional monitoring of progress of both the New Urban Agenda and the city-related Sustainable Development Goals

The Atlas’s findings have already been used to estimate both the worldwide expansion of urban areas between 1990 and 2015 and the share of expansion areas that are laid out before occupation, and also to compare housing affordability against local regulations.