When the Feds Plan and Cities Execute

When the Feds Plan and Cities Execute

National governments may sign a UN New Urban Agenda, but mayors are necessary to making it real.

Six shuttles were running routes this week through Surabaya, Indonesia, to bus leaders of 100-plus countries to a critical UN meeting at the Grand City Convention center. On the negotiating table: a New Urban Agenda meant to be signed in Quito this fall at Habitat III, a conference about global housing and urban development. Amid the talks, before anything was finalized, I talked to several delegates about their hopes for the document, which could guide city planning across the globe over the next 20 years.

The New Urban Agenda would be signed by national leaders, but most say that for it to really work, they have to involve policymakers — and citizens — at the city level.

Linda L. Malenab-Hornilla, commissioner for planning of the Philippines, said her government had already developed guidelines for municipalities to help them prepare for the effects of climate change and make them more resilient. Avelino Tolentino III, director of housing and urban development coordinating council in the Philippines, said they intend to use the New Urban Agenda in the country’s development plan, which is currently being formulated.

“We are going to make sure it informs the updating of our national urban development and housing framework,” Tolentino said.

I also spoke with delegates from Haiti, Myanmar and Ecuador.

Next City is covering preparations for the United Nations’ Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016, through reporting, op-eds and video. With grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Kresge Foundation and Ford Foundation, we’re covering the critical issues at stake on the road to creating a “New Urban Agenda.” In partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, we’re also co-producing a video series to capture the stakes and the stakeholders of this important once-every-two-decades event.

Janine is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and editor.

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