Smart Cities, Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda

As discussed in class, the draft of the outcome document was adopted at the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. The mission of the Habitat III conference entailed the adoption of a New Urban Agenda in which an action oriented document will help set standards of actual achievement in sustainable urban development.

In particular, it is interesting to note the continuing impact of urbanization on communities worldwide when it comes to poverty reduction. As described in class, this has been a trend seen throughout modern histories and Habitat III opens a medium for governments to respond to this development opportunity. By implementing a practical system for cities, towns and national planning objectives, these aspects can all be interconnected to help contribute in driving social development. Another important aspect of Habitat III is regarding its inclusivity as it places focus on all levels of human settlements:

  1. Small rural communities
  2. Villages
  3. Market towns
  4. Intermediate cities
  5. Metropolises for demographic and economic growth

Habitat III serves as an integral role in my Umande Trust Media and Communication Initiative in strategizing the role of the international community in alleviating poverty and increasing inclusivity in informal settlements through information access. As described in the draft outcome, this century will see a substantial majority of the world’s population living in urban centers. In addition, “by 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double, making urbanization one of the twenty-first century’s most transformative trends” (3). As a result, this “poses massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety and natural resources, among others” (3). The outcome emphasizes the importance of the need to “take advantage of the opportunities presented by urbanization as an engine of sustained and inclusive economic growth, social and cultural development, and of its potential contributions to the achievement of transformative and sustainable development” (3).

With the focus of my project being the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, Habitat III places the necessary framework in understanding the factors behind the flaws in Kenyan national policy and inaction towards the nation’s informal settlements. In addition, implementing the Urban Agenda means respecting the rule of law. Without the rule of law, settlements such as Kibera will not be able to experience proper urbanization. In addition to urban rules and regulations, planning and design are integral. As we learned in class, the development of settlements such as Kibera depends on the ability for the adequate provision of common goods such as streets and open spaces. In addition, municipal finance means that management and maintenance is conducted in a proper manner.