The General Assembly in its resolution 67/216 encouraged the United Nations system to effectively contribute and actively participate in the third UN conference on housing and sustainable urban development (Habitat III) to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2016, as well as the preparatory process leading up to it.  The conference is expected to result in the reinvigoration of the global commitment to housing and sustainable urban development and the implementation of a “New Urban Agenda.”  Cities are engines of economic growth that, if well planned and developed, can promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies.  However, challenges to sustainable urban development remain, such as, inter alia, a continuing increase in the number of slum dwellers, the negative impact of environmental degradation on human settlements and the need to reduce disaster risk and build resilience to disasters in urban settlements. 

In response, CEB, through the High-Level Committee on Programmes, established, under the leadership of UN-Habitat, an ad hoc time-bound Working Group on a New UN Urban Agenda, to prepare a coherent UN system input to the conference.  The Working Group was tasked with addressing the challenges associated with urbanization and sustainable development as a substantive contribution to the preparatory process for Habitat III by drawing on the wide-range of expertise of the UN system on the issue.  The resulting paper, to which more than twenty UN system organizations have contributed so far, will seek to emphasize multi-stakeholder partnership in support of sustainable urban development and provide a framework for UN system organizations to showcase their work on urban issues.  The work is expected to continue through 2015.