More than half of the world's population today lives in cities. By 2050, the world's urban population is expected to nearly double, making urbanization one of the twenty-first century's most transformative trends. While cities have gone through massive transformations that have resulted in unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, we need to rethink the way we live in and manage cities to ensure a sustainable future for all.
Although urbanization may contribute to the world's challenges, cities possess immeasurable potential to deliver the innovations required for addressing or reversing many of them. Cities have the strongest capacity to serve as agents of positive change, lift millions out of poverty, pave the way for social equality and stem the tide of climate change.
It is in the pursuit of fulfilling this potential and capacity--during an era in which sustainable urbanization is imperative--that the need for a new urban paradigm becomes clear. An action-oriented plan aimed at effectively addressing the complex challenges of urbanization, the New Urban Agenda will be the focus of discussions at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), taking place from 17 to 20 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.
HABITAT III AS A MILESTONE IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Based on the idea that the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in cities, elaborated in the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled "The Future We Want", there is indeed a global acknowledgment of the transformative power of well-planned urbanization in relation to development. The pursuit of the New Urban Agenda couldn't have come at a better time, not only because of the role that it has in meeting the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, but also due to its capacity to gather all voices and commitments to address an unprecedented urban context.
The Habitat conferences have been convened every 20 years since 1976, when Habitat I was held in Vancouver, Canada. Habitat II took place in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996. This year, Habitat III is set to present a historical paradigm shift of urbanization as a tool for development. The Conference conveys a clear message that the pattern of urbanization needs to change in order to better respond to the...