HLCP at its twenty-seventh session, in March 2014, had established, under the leadership of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), an ad hoc, time-bound Working Group on a New Urban Agenda in order to prepare a coherent input of the United Nations system to the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which would be held in Quito from 17 to 20 October 2016. The Working Group had been tasked with developing a paper on urbanization and sustainable development as an input of the United Nations system to the New Urban Agenda and a proposal for a multi-stakeholder, issue-based partnership as a platform for contributing to the implementation of that agenda. In addition, the Working Group had subsequently been requested to prepare a statement by CEB aimed at reaffirming the commitment of the system to the topic at Habitat III.
In introducing the submissions, UN-Habitat, stated that they had been the outcomes of extensive consultations through the Working Group and fully represented the joint thinking of the United Nations system on the issue of sustainable urbanization. The paper on urbanization and sustainable development was accompanied by an annex that included detailed information on individual and collective initiatives on the topic. Outlining 10 guiding principles on how urbanization could contribute to sustainable development and 10 levers of change by which the United Nations system could turn the principles into action, the paper proposed a vision for sustainable urbanization and concrete steps for its implemen tation, including through a proposed multi-stakeholder partnership. Once finalized, the paper was to be presented to the Secretary-General of Habitat III for transmission to its preparatory committee. Given that the process of intergovernmental consultation on preparing the outcome document was still ongoing, the paper would be an important substantive input to those deliberations concerning the pointed out that the statement was structured around thethree dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
The Committee welcomed the draft paper and the CEB statement, congratulating UN-Habitat on its leadership and the Working Group on its commitment and dedication to such an important and timely topic. Members concurred with the assertion in the draft paper th at urbanization was a megatrend that profoundly shaped human progress and destiny. Urbanization offered significant opportunities for economic growth, employment, social development and human well-being. At the same time, urbanization posed many challenges , including in the environmental, social, economic and political areas. Therefore, well-planned and well-managed urbanization was a central component of sustainable development and, especially, a prerequisite for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11, which called for inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements. In concluding the discussion, the Chair recognized the Committee’s strong support for the draft paper, which outlined the complexities of the issue adroitly. Regarding the draft CEB statement, the Committee favoured a text that stated more explicitly the role of the United Nations system in supporting sustainable urbanization and that focused on a limited number of central strategic issues in a more succinct manner. In response to the comments and suggestions made by members, a revised draft statement, reflecting their essential proposals, as appropriate, was prepared and recirculated to the Committee as the final draft for approval. On behalf of the Committee, the Chair thanked UN-Habitat for its leadership in bringing the initiative to a successful conclusion.
The Committee approved the final draft of the paper entitled “Urbanization and sustainable development: a United Nations system input to a New Urban Agenda”, including the proposal to use the World Urban Campaign as a multi-stakeholder platform for contributing to the implementation of the agenda contained therein, and the draft CEB statement on sustainable urbanization, as revised, for submission to CEB for endorsement and subsequent transmission to the Secretary-General of Habitat III as the input of the United Nations system.