IIED at Habitat III: event listing


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

IIED will be participating in a range of event at Habitat III, the global UN summit on urban issues

The last Habitat conference was held 20 years ago, and Habitat III adopted 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 offered 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.

Conference objectives

The UN General Assembly agreed that the conference objectives were:

  • 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 attended the conference.

IIED and partner events

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

Side event
Sunday, 16 October
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 included a presentation by David Dodman, director of IIED's Human Settlements research group, looked at the prospects for young people in rapidly urbanising countries – both migrants and those born and growing up in cities. It considered their rights, their opportunities, the barriers they face and the lessons learned by local and national governments and other stakeholders in achieving urbanisation that is more inclusive for all, especially young people.

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

Date: Sunday, 16 October
Partner organisations: World Resources Institute (WRI)

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

Harnessing the potential of urbanisation in Least Developed Countries

Side event
Date: Monday, 17 October
Partner organisations: UN-OHRLLS and UNOPS

The side event explored ways on how LDCs can harness the full potential of urbanisation. It shared 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 discussed the root causes of urban poverty, urban exclusion and climate related impacts of rapid urbanisation in LDCs. 

The side event also discussed 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 moderated.

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

Side event
Tuesday, 18 October 
Partner organisations: Global Alliance for Urban Crises  

This session focused 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 demonstrated 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 allowed Global Alliance members to reflect on how past and current humanitarian interventions and research processes contribute to the New Urban Agenda. A plenary discussion then highlighted 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

Side event
Tuesday, 18 October
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 offered examples of the barriers to inclusive urban development, and outline strategies to reduce the incidence of eviction and forced relocation. They presented 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 were 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 

Side event
Tuesday, 18 October
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, conducted in form of a moderated panel discussion – including IIED senior researcher Diane Archer – was followed by an interactive talk with the audience. 

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

Date: Tuesday, 18 October
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, hosted 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 provided 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 was organised into three main elements. The first two focused on sharing evidence and analysis around policy priorities for the transformative commitment on environment and sustainability; the third took a more direct approach to setting relevant, clear, measurable and fundable actions to start and develop this process.

Working collaboratively to disseminate urban knowledge

Tuesday, 18 October

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

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

Date: Wednesday, 19 October
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 featured 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 were a facilitated task to brainstorm and advocate shifts, policies and actions that could assist Jinja in implementing the New Urban Agenda. The facilitated session, chaired by IIED director Andrew Norton and featuring head of Human Settlements David Dodman, addressed themes of urban economic development and competitiveness, infrastructure, connectivity and sustainability.

The Global Alliance for Urban Crises

Wednesday, 19 October
Partner organisations: Global Alliance for Urban Crises

An informal evening event discussed 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, was in the process of shaping its initiatives.

Climate change and urban disaster resilience

Side event
Date: Thursday, 20 October
Partner organisations: WMO, UNESCO, UNU

This side event saw 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 look at solutions and ways forward, such as best practices in megacities.

John Turner: Por una autonomía del habitar

Side event
Date: Thursday, 20 October
Partner organisations: Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences

The launch of the book "Por una autonomía del habitar" provided 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 presented at the event.