Setting the tone for Habitat III: Challenges and Opportunity


Setting the tone for Habitat III: Challenges and Opportunity. ..Part 2.

(Part one briefed about the background behind Habitat conference and discussed about MDGs. Here we talk about SDGs and ahead )

In September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted a plan for achieving a better future for all – laying out a path over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of “Agenda 2030” are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which clearly define the world we want – applying to all nations and leaving no one behind.
The New Urban Agenda is the first step for operationalizing sustainable development in an integrated and coordinated way at global, regional, national, sub-national and local levels. By creating an action-oriented roadmap for implementation, the New Urban Agenda will drive the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially Goal 11, of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, as well as other targets across the Sustainable Development Goals.
A total of 17 sustainable goals were identified that will be addressed during the course of next 15 years. These goals include Poverty ( SDG 1), zero Hunger (2), Health (3), Education (4) , Gender Equality (5), Water and Sanitation (6), Clean Energ (7), Economic Growth (8), Infrastructure (9), Inequalities (10), Sutainable Cities (11), Sustianable consumption and Production (12), Climate Change (13), Oceans (14), Biodiversity/Forests (15), Peace/Justoce (16) and Partnership (17 )(
As can be seen SDG 6 i.e. Water and Sanitation, SDG 7 -Clean Energy , SDG- Infrastructure, SDG 11- Sustainable cities , SDG 13 – Climate Change etc are all important that will decide how we are going to live and sustain in the years to come. SDG 11 becomes more important as it addresses directly about sustainable Cities and is directly related to the man on the street as well as the elite. No surprise than, The UN conference on Habitat III, will have many discussions on SDG 11, besides SDG 6, 7 , 13 etc.
The UN conference on Habitat III starts with a zero draft paper that places all the issues before the Quito conference for debates and discussions. Another version of the zero draft was released in may 2016. Each new version of the draft tries to converge the opinions and issues and creates consensus before it gets placed in Quito for final discussion and acceptance.
What is Zero Draft: (
The Habitat III preparatory process started in September 2014 and will continue until the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Habitat III Conference in Surabaya, Indonesia, in July 2016.
The Habitat III zero draft has been submitted on 6 May 2016 by the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee and will be discussed at the upcoming session of the informal intergovernmental negotiations and informal hearings with local authorities associations and civil society organizations in May, June, and July 2016, as decided by the General Assembly resolution A/70/210.
The New Urban Agenda aims to be a concise, action-oriented, forward-looking, and universal framework of actions for housing and sustainable urban development. The publication of the zero draft opens the next chapter of the Habitat III roadmap.
The zero draft has been prepared on the basis of inputs from broad regional and thematic consultations, as well as the policy recommendations elaborated by the policy units and comments thereon received by participating states and all stakeholders.
A new Draft Urban Agenda was released on 18yh July that will replace the zero draft (
The New Urban Draft Agenda:
At 19 pages and 156 paragraphs, this third version, officially the “Draft New Urban Agenda” (the previous two versions were called “zero drafts”), is only one page and five paragraphs longer than its predecessor.
Among two of the main controversial issues, one appears to be resolved while the other will likely generate more debate in Surabaya. The “right to the city” remains mentioned once in the agenda’s opening section, known as the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All, in terms that recognize the concept as one that some countries have enshrined in law while shielding it from the broader applicability that other countries have feared.
The other hot-button issue is less settled: How to monitor and report progress on the New Urban Agenda. A proposal by the European Union to feed into the existing architecture for review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was not adopted in the new text.
Heading into Surabaya, the New Urban Agenda is still very much a “live text”, such that much could change in the political horse-trading and diplomatic overtures that will likely go into the Indonesian night next week. At present, however, the text has not yet been “bracketed” — which is to say, controversial language lacking consensus has not been denoted with brackets, a common practice at U. N. negotiations.
If Surabaya concludes with a heavily bracketed document, it is likely that more talks will be called between now and Quito. (
The discussions on the previous version i.e. zero draft replaced by the New draft Urban agenda will continue until Quito and will be placed there for acceptance and guidance on habitat agenda for next twenty years suitably aided by SDGs.
To be contd….
Note: Part 1 of the series can be accessed at

Asheesh Shah
Author: Asheesh Shah

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