Smart Cities, Habitat III and New Urban Agenda

Our discussion this week was centered around The New Urban Agenda proposed by the Habitat III, and how the implementation of smart cities have the potential to produce inclusive cities.

The Habitat III is the third United Nations Housing Settlements Programme conference on housing and sustainable urban development. The Habitat III not only provides the framework for inclusive urban development, but also takes into account multiple components on how cities are designed, financed, and governed. The New Urban Agenda is a multi-stakeholder agenda geared towards finding a solution to make cities more inclusively sustainable. Its purpose is highlighted in paragraph no.11:

 “We share a vision of cities for all, referring to the equal use and enjoyment of cities and human settlements, seeking to promote inclusivity and ensure that all inhabitants, of present and future generations, without discrimination of any kind, are able to inhabit and produce just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements to foster prosperity and quality of life for all ” (The New Urban Agenda, United Nations).

Additionally, the New Urban Agenda aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals because the language within the document concerns itself with issues such as climate change, inclusion of people with disabilities, the displacement of migrants and how to make cities more climate resilient. The New Urban Agenda takes on several Grand Challenges faced by urban cities throughout the world and engages stakeholders on a global, regional, and national levels. The stakeholder defined in the NUA vary, ranging from national governments to indigenous groups, to the private sector and academia. The NUA is a Grand Challenge that requires a collective effort from all stakeholders.

What I found interesting about the NUA is paragraph no.12:

“We aim to achieve cities and human settlements where all persons are able to enjoy equal rights and opportunities, as well as their fundamental freedoms…”(The New Urban Agenda, United Nations).

The reason why this intrigues me is because it coincides with the Pineda reading, emphasizing how the construction of public spaces can maximize an individual’s capabilities. It also made me reflect on our discussion on the first day of class – are people with disabilities considered disabled within certain contexts, or only when they are place in environments that inherently limit their capabilities. The creation of smart cities and implementation of technology that is inclusive can maximize a person’s capabilities which intrinsically feeds into the Sen’s theory – Development as a freedom.