The Habitat III – United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, took place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17-20 October, 2016 and gathered approximately 60.000 attendants, between representatives of national governments, authorities and officials of cities and regions, civil society and intellectuals. In addition to the main plenaries, participants could visit a large exhibition zone, hundreds of side-events, and including the Alternative Habitat III. nrg4SD was also in Quito, organizing opportunities of discussions on the RegionsAdapt, supporting and representing members regions’ voice in this process. In particular relevance to regions, topics of territorial development, urban-rural linkages, multilevel governance and metropolitan areas were widely discussed in Ecuador.
After a long period of negotiations, Habitat III celebrated the adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) – a plan of action to guide the future of urbanization, with clear recommendations to the efforts on this area. The document widely recognize the core relevance of involving subnational governments to pursue this ambitious agenda. Among several excerpts highlighting the need to collaborate with local and subnational governments, the NUA “urge all national, sub-national, and local governments, as well as all relevant stakeholders, in line with national policies and legislation, to revitalize, strengthen, and create partnerships, enhancing coordination and cooperation to effectively implement the New Urban Agenda and realize our shared vision” (Para 21).
The NUA also establishes important links with other UN Agendas. Considering the unique potential of addressing those issues in cities and regions, the NUA needs to pursue the joint implementation of the Agenda 2030, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework and the Paris Climate Agreement – which just entered into force last 4 November.
Besides, the document still promises a whole review of the role UN’s lead agency on urbanization, UN-Habitat, also in attempt to clarify the doubts surround the implementation of this new agenda. In any case this should affect, and hopefully improve, the mechanism for the participation of subnational governments in this and other UN discussions.
Mobilization of Local & Regional Governments
On the eve of the first day of the Conference, governors, ministers and mayors attended the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments on Sunday, October 16. The event was coordinated by the Global Task Force, an initiative that gather international associations of subnational authorities, including nrg4SD, and presented a statement with the constituency’s position in this agenda. Over 45 leaders addressed the Assembly, including nrg4SD members, as the Deputy Prefect of Azuay’s Province, María Cecilia Alvarado, the Minister of Territory and Sustainability of Catalonia, Josep Rull and the Vice-President of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Mr. Abdelkébir Berkia emphasizing the specific role and importance of regional governments in promoting a territorial approach to the new urban agenda.
The World Assembly was recognized in the NUA, as platform for the engagement of local and regional governments in the follow-up and review process. Besides, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, supported the pledges of the group: “decentralization, and the devolution of roles and responsibilities to local and regional authorities, is an important trend”.
New members of RegionsAdapt
States, regions and provinces also have a key role to play in making cities resilient. With that in mind, nrg4SD organized the event “Enhancing Urban Resilience through RegionsAdapt”, on October 19, in collaboration with United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+Centre). The event counted with the participation of members of the initiative, who could share best-practices of policies and actions their governments promote in support to urban resilience. Among the presenters, it included Mr. Abdessamad Sekkal, President of the Council of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra and Ms. Ana Isabel Oregui, Minister of Environment and Territorial Policy of the Basque Country.
During the whole week, the RegionsAdapt was mentioned in multiple opportunities. On the Sunday, October 19, nrg4SD joined the bureau and General Assembly of ORU-Fogar, promoted a new signing ceremony for the RegionsAdapt and 6 new regions signed the initiative: Pichincha (Ecuador), Bolivar (Peru), Esmeraldas (Ecuador), Manabí (Ecuador), Santa Elena (Ecuador), Orellana (Ecuador). In close collaboration with the association of regional governments in Ecuador (CONGOPE), new members of RegionsAdapt received additional guidance on next steps of the initiative during a dedicated workshop.
With ORU-Fogar, nrg4SD also supported the side-event “Integrated and balanced territorial development – Regional governments in the New Urban Agenda”. Besides, it was also launched a common position paper of regions to habitat III.
Additionally, the RegionsAdapt was presented during the first meeting of the Association of Regional Governments of countries members of Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). The initiative raised the interest of leaders of subnational governments and their organizations.
nrg4SD photos available at our flickr page.
For additional information about Habitat III, we suggest the Citiscope.
Photo from the Global Task Force – World Assembly of Local & Regional Governments, 16 October.