This week the city of Quito is hosting the 3rd United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III. This global event, celebrated only once every twenty years, has drawn nearly 50,000 people to the capital of Ecuador, including heads of state, the UN Secretary General, delegations representing more than 500 cities, and mayors from over 200 cities, including Madrid and Barcelona.
Habitat III is the first global conference to take place since the 2030 Agenda came into force in January 2016 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was adopted by 174 countries and the European Union in December 2015. It is thus a unique opportunity to explore the opportunities urban settings can offer for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and national commitments to reduce CO2 emissions in order to limit the increase of the average global temperature to 2ºC or less.
The main outcome of this conference, the new global Urban Agenda, establishes a strategy to plan, build and manage cities in a manner that is both equitable and sustainable. As such, it should guide the definition of national urban development policies over the next two decades.
The Global Water Operators’ Partnership Alliance (UN-HABITAT/GWOPA) and the City Resilience Profiling Programme (UN-HABITAT/CRPP) have contributed considerably to discussions on these issues. It is thus no surprise that both programmes have been very active in the Habitat III process.
UN-HABITAT/ GWOPA has led an international campaign to achieve recognition of the value and role of water in urban development, as well as specific reference to this in the Urban Agenda. In doing this, attention is drawn to the existing interrelations between city planning and the use and impact of water in sectors such as public health, food production, energy and biodiversity, all of which are signalled as priorities in both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Urban Agenda. Moreover, with the goal of raising the awareness of local and international leaders, GWOPA has organised an event to explain the value of water beyond basic services.
The presence of the City Resilience Profiling Programme (UN-HABITAT/CRPP) in Quito is also highly visible, as the programme is represented in over 50 international meetings taking place in the city this week. Furthermore, UN-HABITAT/CRPP has participated in the organisation of reference events on urban resilience, the harmonisation of national strategies with local actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change, the need for human settlements to be both climate-change resilient and disaster-responsible environments, and the management of migratory movements, as well as the arrival of refugees in towns and cities.
More information on the specific events organised by GWOPA and CRPP can be found in the Habitat III official programme.