Inclusive Cities, Habitat III and New Urban Agenda

Summary: A major part of inclusive sustainable international development is ensuring that cities are created / adapted in a way that advances the space forward for all. This means making pubic spaces available for every person and working towards equity in cities. Since a large majority of people around the world lives in cities and continues to migrate towards them, the focus on cities is important because they are large contributors to the global world.

Inclusive cities are an important concept to analyze when speaking about any type of development. The World Bank details the lens that inclusive cities must be looked through. The World Bank states, “It is essential to understand that the concept of inclusive cities involves a complex web of multiple spatial, social and economic factors:

  • Spatial inclusion: urban inclusion requires providing affordable necessities such as housing, water and sanitation. Lack of access to essential infrastructure and services is a daily struggle for many disadvantaged households;
  • Social inclusion: an inclusive city needs to guarantee equal rights and participation of all, including the most marginalized. Recently, the lack of opportunities for the urban poor, and greater demand for voice from the socially excluded have exacerbated incidents of social upheaval in cities;
  • Economic inclusion: creating jobs and giving urban residents the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of economic growth is a critical component of overall urban inclusion” [1]

This topic is especially important when it comes to ensuring people with disabilities are included in this conversation and implementation. As discussed in class, having smart cities in an inclusive city really helps with the inclusion of people with disabilities. Smart cities, through the use of technology, can improve public transportation for people with a multitude of disabilities. This can be smart apps that can verbally announce the exact steps that you must take in order to get to the bus. Smart cities also help inclusive cities because it connects the people with the local government or businesses. This means that the local government and businesses can get real feedback from all kinds of people experiencing problem in the city.

The New Urban Agenda came about because the UN saw the need to focus on cities. In fact the UN reports that, “While cities today occupy only 2% of the total land, they contribute 70% to an economy’s GDP, are responsible for over 60% of the global energy consumption, emit 70% of the green house gases, and contribute 70% of the global waste.”[2] Cities need special consideration considering the large impact they have all over the world. The New Urban Agenda seeks to, “Integrate equity to the development agenda. Equity becomes an issue of social justice, ensures access to the public sphere, extends opportunities and increases the commons.” Overall focusing on Inclusive cities was a concept I had not been aware of in development but now I can see how it is so vital to focus on ensuring that cities are a place for all types of people to live.

[1] The World Bank. “Inclusive Cities.” 2018. Retrieved at

[2] The United Nations. “The New Urban Agenda: Habitat III.” 2018. Retrieved at