UN to set global goals in sustainable urban development

Quito: The UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to be held in Ecuador on October 17-20, will set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development for the next 20 years.

The meeting, also known as Habitat III, will attract 45,000 participants from around the world, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to Ecuador’s Minister of Security Cesar Navas.

Habitat III is expected to see the signing of the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All, and the adoption of a new Urban Agenda, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The Conference is a unique opportunity for… governments… to integrate all facets of sustainable development to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity,” said Joan Clos, the Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The migration from rural to urban areas after the Second World War rapidly accelerated through the 1960s and 1970s. Inequality between countryside and cities made millions across the world flock into cities in pursuit of economic opportunities, leading to the expansion of slums and other illegal settlements in the periphery of major communities, as well as increasing crimes, diseases and chaos.

The first UN Conference on Human Settlements, known as Habitat I, was held in 1976 in Vancouver, Canada. Its declaration enshrined the concept that “adequate shelter and services are a basic human right”.

It also led to the creation in 1978 of UN-Habitat, the UN’s department for human settlements and sustainable urban development.

In 1996, Habitat II took place in Turkey’s Istanbul in a far more inclusive manner. National and local governments, NGOs, academic institutions and private companies were all invited to provide their opinions on how to manage urbanisation.

In December 2014, the UN General Assembly decided to host Habitat III in Ecuador in October 2016. The decision was made as global urbanisation witnessed rapid acceleration in the last 40 years.

In 1976, 37.9 per cent of the world’s population lived in urban regions. The number rose to 45.1 per cent by 1996 and now stands at 54.5 per cent.