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UN releases document on human settlement and urbanisation

Update: October, 04/2016 - 09:00
Journalists during a panel discussion at the press conference. — Photo courtesy of organiser.
Viet Nam News

FUKUOKA, Japan — A draft outcome document was introduced and discussed during a press conference organised by UN-Habitat – a United Nations human settlement programme – in Fukuoka, Japan.

The document, which is expected to be adopted in the upcoming UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III – in Quinto, Ecuador during 17-20 October, aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess up-to-date accomplishments, address poverty and identify new and emerging urban challenges.

It outlines some 169 targets and 17 goals, designed to be the successor of UN’s Millennial Development Goals (MDGs), to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Key sustainable development goals include plans to ensure access for all to adequate and affordable housing, to improve transport systems, enhance human settlement planning, expand public space across human settlements and make them more resilient in the face of natural disasters. Cities and human settlements are encouraged to adopt and implement policies and plan to improve resource efficiency, and adapt to and mitigate adverse effects of global climate change.

The document stresses the importance of local governmental and social bodies, especially in the area of poverty reduction, fighting inequality, improving water sources and sanitation as well as promote responsible consumption and production.

The UN programme also encourages cities to build and develop their own goals as well as emphasise synergies across different sectors.

At the conference, journalists from eight Asian countries presented and discussed numerous urbanisation issues in their respective cities and countries. Key issues consisted of overpopulation, infrastructure inefficiency, degradation of living environments in developing countries such as Mongolia, India and Vietnam and the aging population in more developed countries such as Japan and Korea. 

H-III, along with its predecessors H-I and H-II, will contribute towards the UN’s New Urban Agenda that view cities as a force of global development and find answers to the challenge of how to manage the urbanisation process to improve citizens’ lives.

The United Nations General Assembly convened the Habitat I Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976, as governments began to recognise the need for sustainable human settlements and the consequences of rapid urbanisation, especially in the developing world.

The Vancouver commitments were reconfirmed 20 years later in 1996, at the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, Turkey. World leaders adopted the Habitat Agenda as a global plan of action for adequate shelter for all, with the notion of sustainable human settlements driving development in an urbanising world.

During the last four decades, the world has witnessed the greatest and fastest migration of people into cities and towns in human history. From just 0.9 billion people living in cities across the world in 1900 (20 per cent of the global population at the time) by 2000 the number of city-dwellers had risen to 3.5 billion (50 per cent). By 2050, an estimated 7 billion people, or 70 per cent of the world’s population, will reside in cities.

Habitat III is one of the first United Nations global summits after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It offers a unique opportunity to discuss the important challenge of how cities, towns, and villages are planned and managed, in order to fulfill their role as drivers of sustainable development, and hence shape the implementation of new global development goals. — VNS


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