As the United Nations gets closer to October’s Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, or Habitat III, in Quito, Ecuador, the world also gets nearer to a “New Urban Agenda.” The UN hopes that stakeholders will adopt the agenda in the fall, and use the document as a guide to dealing with the challenges of booming cities in years to come.
Last week, at a New York City event hosted by the Ford Foundation (a Next City funder) that looked at the role the U.S. government plans to take at Habitat III, HUD Secretary Julián Castro said local leadership will be emphasized throughout the conference. He highlighted the importance of municipal leadership in meeting affordable housing goals and noted that when the federal government is struggling with gridlock, cities are often where “things get done.”
“We can talk as much as we want at the federal level, and we can even invest a decent amount of money,” Castro said. “But ultimately these folks are the ones that implement the policy. Not only that, but they sharpen the policies and build off the policies, or sometimes even resist the policies at the local level. We’re looking toward Habitat III, but that’s kind of just the beginning. We need to get mayors and other local investors throughout the country to think about how they can become leaders in the global context.”
Check out the Next City video below for Castro’s take on implementing the New Urban Agenda.
Kelsey E. Thomas is a former associate editor at Next City.