For the past four months, activists, lobbyists, local governments and national governments have been jockeying for position around a major new U. N. strategy on sustainable urbanization.
After four iterations, the final draft of that document, known as the New Urban Agenda, was released Tuesday, on the heels of intensive, 38-hour negotiations that took place last weekend at U. N. Headquarters. Many now expect this draft to be the one that gets adopted next month when heads of state and government gather at the Habitat III summit in Quito, Ecuador.
The repercussions of this 23-page document will be felt for the next two decades, and the ramifications of any truly transformational aspects may take years to be understood. But in the immediate aftermath of the exhausting conclusion to the Habitat III talks, Citiscope notes five takeaways from the storylines it has been following for the past several months.
1. A vision of 21st-century urbanism — and details on how to make it happen
The good news for urbanists is that the meat and potatoes of the New Urban Agenda has been settled for some time. Indeed, there was relatively little controversy over the document’s main provisions: For the first time, an internationally negotiated document calls for compact cities, polycentric growth, mixed-use streetscapes, prevention of sprawl and transit-oriented development.
But how the United Nations, its member states, local governments and civil society were going to track the implementation of such an ambitious vision has been up in the air almost since the first draft of the New Urban Agendawas released in early May. While that question is not fully answered by the final version — the role of the U. N.’s lead agency on urbanization, UN-Habitat, will be the subject of an independent assessment next year with a decision ultimately taken by the U. N. General Assembly — it does shed more light on institutional mechanisms for monitoring the New Urban Agenda.