IIED at Habitat III

Article, 23 September 2016
Event, 20 October 2016

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. IIED and its partners will be at this year's Habitat conference, which takes place from 17-20 October in Quito, Ecuador.

The last Habitat conference was held 20 years ago, and Habitat III will adopt the 'New Urban Agenda'. This 'action-oriented document' aims to set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, and secure cooperation from global stakeholders to rethink the way we build, manage, and live in cities.

For an account of the previous Habitat agenda, see 'Can UN conferences promote poverty reduction? A review of the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda', by David Satterthwaite.

Habitat III is the first United Nations global summit since the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement. It offers an opportunity to discuss the challenges of how cities are planned and managed, and their role as drivers of sustainable development and climate change goals.

A map showing the location of IIED's exhibition stand at Habitat III

Conference objectives

The UN General Assembly agreed that the conference objectives are:

  • Secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development
  • Assessing accomplishments to date
  • Addressing poverty, and
  • Identifying and addressing new and emerging challenges.

The work of IIED

IIED has already been participating in the Habitat III process for much of 2016 through influencing policy, hosting events and meetings, and producing briefings and blogs.

IIED director Andrew Norton, members of IIED's Human Settlements research group and their research partners are attending the conference. This officially starts on 17 October, but IIED and partners will be present in the exhibition area in area B, stand 25 (see the map above), from 15 October.

They will provide regular video updates from Quito above and on IIED's YouTube channel, and will play a key role in a number of events and activities, as detailed below. All times given are in Quito (GMT -5) and the full programme is available on the Habitat III website.

IIED and partner events

Realising an urban demographic dividend: health, empowerment and human capabilities for young people in urban areas

A young girl works as a waitress in Hanoi, Vietnam (Photo: Chris Goldberg, Creative Commons, via Flickr)Side event
Sunday, 16 October
Time: 10-11.30am
Room: TBC
Partner organisations: UNFPA

In rapidly urbanising countries, towns and cities contain a disproportionate number of working age people, particularly including young people. This side event, which will include a presentation by David Dodman, director of IIED's Human Settlements research group, will look at the prospects for young people in rapidly urbanising countries – both migrants and those born and growing up in cities. It will consider their rights, their opportunities, the barriers they face and the lessons learned by local and national governments and other stakeholders in achieving urbanization that is more inclusive for all, especially young people. This event is invitation only.

Towards a more equal city: mobilising for post-Quito implementation

Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town is South Africa's fastest-growing township (Photo: Achala Chandani/IIED)

Date: Sunday, 16 October
Time: 1-6pm 
Room: Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (Montevideo y Luis Dávila, Montevideo, Quito)
Partner organisations: World Resources Institute (WRI)

The half-day event will serve as a forum for discussion about how to shift from a global narrative on equal cities to tangible action on the ground. It will feature presentations and panels on high-priority action areas – such as energy, housing and transportation – covered in WRI's World Resources Report on sustainable cities. This event is by invitation only.

Harnessing the potential of urbanisation in Least Developed Countries

Uganda's Fort Portal, with 50,000 inhabitants, is expected to grow tenfold into a fully-fledged city with a population of half a million by 2040 (Photo: Sister Haiti, Creative Commons via Flickr)Side event
Date: Monday, 17 October
Time: 5.30-7.30pm
Room: Conference Room A, One UN Pavilion
Partner organisations: UN-OHRLLS and UNOPS

The side event will explore ways on how LDCs can harness the full potential of urbanisation. It aims to share views on how the urbanisation process in LDCs can simultaneously contribute to internationally agreed development goals of reducing poverty, promoting equality and transition to environmental sustainability. In doing so, the side event will discuss the root causes of urban poverty, urban exclusion and climate related impacts of rapid urbanisation in LDCs. 

The side event will also discuss some of the policies and programmes for building urban resilience in LDCs and share lessons learnt. It will contribute towards providing guidance on key areas for action to tap into the full potential urbanisation brings and how it can be harnessed to create opportunities for all in LDCs. IIED principal researcher Diana Mitlin will moderate.

Fostering collaboration for effective urban humanitarian response – the Global Alliance for Urban Crises

Flooding is a severe and increasingly frequent disaster with which cities have to deal (Photo: UNICEF-Marco Dormino)Side event
Tuesday, 18 October 
Time: 9.30-10.30am
Room: R10 Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana 
Partner organisations: Global Alliance for Urban Crises  

This session will focus on the role that the Global Alliance for Urban Crises can play, as a collaborative multi-stakeholder network of urban and humanitarian practitioners, researchers, and local authority networks, in achieving the commitments of the New Urban Agenda. The event will demonstrate the progress that alliance members are making towards more effective urban crisis response, and how this contributes towards more resilient and inclusive urban areas. 
Brief panel interventions will allow Global Alliance members to reflect on how past and current humanitarian interventions and research processes contribute to the New Urban Agenda. A plenary discussion will then highlight areas where more action is required in these respects, and how urban humanitarian response processes can contribute to achieving the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. 


Show me the money! Financial and political strategies to address eviction and climate‐induced relocation

In Mandaue City residents have organised community landfilling to protect against coastal flooding (Photo: David Dodman/IIED)Side event
Tuesday, 18 October
Time: 11am-12pm
Room: MR12 
Partner organisations: County Government of Kiambu, Kenya; Federation of the Urban and Rural Poor (FEDUP), South Africa; Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency, Nigeria; Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Kenya; National Treasury, South Africa; Nigerian Slum Dwellers Federation; Shack/Slum Dwellers International, South Africa; University of Manchester, UK

Urban development is rarely pro-poor, particularly in fast-growing cities in low- and lower middle-income countries, and climate change is adversely affecting informal settlements and increasing vulnerabilities. Habitat III seeks to build political commitment to inclusive urbanisation and adequate housing, but how can cities deliver on Habitat III's ambitious goals?
Around the world, organised groups of urban residents are working with municipal governments to develop alternatives to eviction and relocation. Such collaboration ensures that the needs of low-income urban residents are considered. 

Speakers from communities and governments will offer examples of the barriers to inclusive urban development, and outline strategies to reduce the incidence of eviction and forced relocation. They will present practical approaches that community-based groups and municipal authorities have adopted, and include financing mechanisms in which community savings leverages donor and state contributions. The experiences and perspectives of the federations will be considered against the New Urban Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement by internationally recognised urban researchers.

Migrants and refugees in urban areas: lessons from the global South and North 

Three generations of Syrian refugees queuing at a registration point on the Syria/Lebanon border. The United Nations says 4.8 million people have fled the conflict in Syria (Photo: UNHCR/ M. Hofer, Creative Commons via Flickr)Side event
Tuesday, 18 October
Time: 12.30-1.30pm
Room: TBC
Partner organisations: German Development Institute

Worldwide, people displaced by disaster or conflict as well as other migrant groups seek protection, passage and social and economic perspectives in urban areas. They frequently reside in informal urban settlements, and large refugee or migrant influxes are putting immense pressure on cities to establish the necessary infrastructure and services to receive and integrate newcomers.

Cities also need to find ways to ensure that the different population groups co-exist peacefully, and while it is widely acknowledged that cities are first points of arrival, transit hubs and ultimate destinations, cities lack crucial input when it comes to policy. 

As a rule, local authorities are at the forefront in the daily management of migration and/or other forms of mobility. Given that refugee flows often translate in protracted displacement shaping cities for the longer term, providing developmental and integration options beyond humanitarian aid becomes a requirement. This side event, which will be conducted in form of a moderated panel discussion – including IIED senior researcher Diane Archer – followed by an interactive talk with the audience. 

Fostering ecological and resilient cities: implementing the 'New Urban Agenda'

Witsands Eco Development, South Africa (Photo: David Dodman/IIED)Date: Tuesday, 18 October
Time: 1-5.30pm
Room: UN Pavilion
Partner organisations: Cities of Johannesburg, South Africa; Sorsogon, the Philippines; San Salvador, El Salvador; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability; Green Climate Fund; UN Habitat; EcoCity Builders; King's College London

UNEP, with the support of IIED, is hosting a shared learning workshop where representatives from international agencies, city networks and research institutions will work with selected cities to develop strategic approaches for engaging with and delivering these goals. The training event will provide a space for urban actors operating at different scales to share innovative approaches to fostering ecological and resilient cities, and for municipal authorities to secure the support necessary to develop targeted plans of action.

The training event will be organised into three main elements. The first two will focus on sharing evidence and analysis around policy priorities for the transformative commitment on environment and sustainability; the third will take a more direct approach to setting relevant, clear, measurable and fundable actions to start and develop this process.

Working collaboratively to disseminate urban knowledge

The Environment & Urbanization journalReception
Tuesday, 18 October
Time: 6-9.30pm
Venue: Mercure Hotel, Vicente Ramón Roca E4-122 y Avenida Río Amazonas, EC701, Quito

To celebrate several decades of the urban journals 'Medio Ambiente y Urbanización' and 'Environment & Urbanization', an evening reception will discuss 'Working collaboratively to disseminate urban knowledge'. Editors and authors representing these journals will share their experiences of using academic publishing to further research agendas and spread lessons learnt from the grassroots. Guests will be invited to discuss their own experiences of collaborative knowledge-sharing, in an informal atmosphere. Refreshments will be provided.

Live city hack: smarter growth for Uganda's second city

Building new low-cost homes in Buenos Aires (Photo: Mark Edwards/IIED)Date: Wednesday, 19 October
Time: 4.30-6.30pm
Room: R6
Partner organisations: UK Department For International Development, Cities Alliance, World Bank, Municipality Of Jinja In Ugand

Investing in a new generation of competitive and sustainable secondary cities is key to unlocking the 'urban dividend' in Uganda and other countries. This networking event will feature the vision and challenges faced by the Town Clerk of Jinja, an emerging Ugandan secondary city poised to grow rapidly in the coming decades. 

Attendees will be set a facilitated task to brainstorm and advocate shifts, policies and actions that could assist Jinja in implementing the New Urban Agenda. The facilitated session, which will be chaired by IIEd director Andrew Norton and feature head of Human Settlements David Dodman will address themes of urban economic development and competitiveness, infrastructure, connectivity and sustainability.

The Global Alliance for Urban Crises

The Quarry Road informal settlement in Durban was hit by flooding in 2011 (Photo: David Dodman/IIED)Reception
Wednesday, 19 October
Time: 7-10.30pm
Room: Mercure Hotel, Vicente Ramón Roca E4-122 y Avenida Río Amazonas
Partner organisations: Global Alliance for Urban Crises

An informal evening event to discuss the role that the Global Alliance for Urban Crises can play in achieving the commitments of the New Urban Agenda. The alliance, launched in May 2016 at the World Humanitarian Summit, is in the process of shaping its initiatives. Current and prospective members of the alliance are welcome to attend and to share their views, on potential roles and activities for the alliance. This event is invitation only.

Climate change and urban disaster resilience

Indigeonous communities join government officials, NGOs and academics to participate in a ridge-to-reef mapping workshop in Cagayan de Oro City to identify threats to the forest and environment ecosystem (Photo: Horacio Marcos C. Mordeno, MindaNews, Creative Commons via Flickr)Side event
Date: Thursday, 20 October
Time: TBC
Room: TBC
Partner organisations: WMO, UNESCO, UNU

This side event will see partners, including IIED senior fellow David Satterthwaite, discuss the current and future challenges of climate change and urban disaster resilience, including integrated approaches for urban weather, climate, environment and water systems, and will look at solutions and ways forward, such as best practices in megacities. The event will include panel discussions.

John Turner: Por una autonomía del habitar

Housing by People, by John TurnerSide event
Date: Thursday, 20 October
Time: 5-6pm
Room: Urban library
Partner organisations: Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences

The launch of the book "Por una autonomía del habitar" provides for the first time Spanish translations of some of John Turnerʼs articles published between 1963 and 1978. "Housing by people" by Turner was one of the books that marked a 'New Urban Agenda' at Habitat I in Vancouver in 1976. It has inspired generations of architects, urban writers and thinkers, but also policymakers to understand the self-built or informal city in a different way and, above all, to understand it as a solution and not as a problem. IIED senior fellow David Satterthwaite will present at the event.


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