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The Need for a New Urban Agenda

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Published: 19th Jul, 2019

The Need for a New Urban Agenda

Cities are growing everywhere, but as they grow and their problems become more complex, they learn from each other, and from their local communities. In so many areas—urban services, urban housing, growing inequality and exclusion, and safety and security— new challenges are emerging, even when old patterns persist. Cities will always be “rife with problems,” even when they are “filled with promise.” To effectively address these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of urbanization requires a coherent approach. This approach in the form of a new urban agenda offers a unique opportunity to achieve global strategic goals by harnessing the transformative forces of urbanization:

  1. The new urban agenda should recognize that urbanization as a force on its own, which, alongside other drivers of sustainable development can be harnessed and steered through policy, planning and design, regulatory instruments as well as other interventions to contribute towards national sustainable development. Moreover, the challenges posed by urbanization have global ramifications that, if not addressed adequately, could jeopardize chances of achieving sustainable development. It is therefore necessary to shift cities and towns onto a sustainable development path.
  2. The new urban agenda should promote sustainable cities and other human settlements that are environmentally sustainable and resilient; socially inclusive, safe and violence-free; economically productive; and better connected to and contributing towards sustained rural transformation. Such a vision should be fully in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially Goal 11: to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  3. This new urban agenda should be implementable, universal, rights-based, sectorally and spatially integrative, inclusive, equitable, people-centred, green and measurable.
  4. The new urban agenda should have the possibility of articulating different scales, from the neighbourhood to the global level, and diverse scales of human settlements— from the village through the small and mediumsized town, to the city and megacity.
  5. For the new urban agenda to induce transformative change in cities and countries both developed and developing, it needs to give explicit attention to both the pillars that can guide this change and the levers to support the development of a new model of urbanization.
  6. The new urban agenda can shape our emerging futures, bringing about the sustainable type of development that is essential for national sustainable development, as its expected outcomes extend well beyond urban areas through a range of ripple effects across socioeconomic and environmental spaces.

Source: World Cities Report 2016, UN Habitat


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