Urbanization has reached a tipping point and sustainable cities will happen by design, not by default. 

The New Urban Agenda, which was finalized at the United Nations Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016, provides a blueprint for sustainable urban development with a focus on housing.

Stakeholders at all levels should help create an enabling environment and establish urban plans and policies that prioritize adequate and affordable housing, secure land tenure, and community-led development, fostering sustainable cities where everyone has a decent place to live.

To implement the New Urban Agenda, national governments should:

  • Establish Country-Led Commissions. National governments should establish commissions or other bodies dedicated to advancing plans, funding and initiatives related to the New Urban Agenda.
  • Strengthen and Enact Urban Laws and Regulations. National governments should strengthen and enact urban laws and regulations, especially around housing and land, and support subnational and local level reviews which take into consideration the principle of subsidiarity.
  • Develop Financial Plans. Implementing the New Urban Agenda requires national governments to develop a financial plan with a focus on revenue generation and partnership opportunities to catalyze market development, outline mechanisms for increasing housing supply and improving affordability and promote tools to increase access to land and basic services.
  • Enable Stakeholder Participation. Implementation of the New Urban Agenda must be inclusive and involve citizens’ and grassroots groups’ direct input and participation in decision making processes at national, subnational and local levels.
  • Collect and Promote Open, Accessible and Disaggregated Data Open, accessible and disaggregated data should be made available so that governments, businesses and other stakeholders can weigh investments, prioritize limited budgets and assess progress.

The United Nations should:

  • Centralize follow up and review. While governments and citizens alike have a stake in the success of the New Urban Agenda, there must be a centralized and coordinated mechanism at the United Nations that formally owns its implementation and elevates its profile.
  • Strengthen UN-Habitat and implementation platforms. UN-Habitat leads the United Nations’ work related to housing and urban development and therefore should be as efficient and effective as possible if it is to help implement the New Urban Agenda.
  • Increase funding, research and capacities for cities. The United Nations and its member states must increase funding, research and capacity for cities to ensure urban growth in the next 20 years is inclusive and sustainable.
  • Promote cross-sectoral collaboration. It will be necessary for various sectors and disciplines to work together and align their complementary strengths and capabilities. The United Nations, particularly UN-Habitat, can play a central role in helping to facilitate the formation and operation of these coalitions.

I stand with Solid Ground, a global advocacy campaign of Habitat for Humanity, to urge you to advance the New Urban Agenda by supporting their Policy Priorities for Implementing the New Urban Agenda. Thank you for joining me in creating a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.