Smart Cities, Habitat III, and the New Urban Agenda

This week, we discussed smart, inclusive cities, as well as international frameworks, such as Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda. In this post, I will elaborate on the goals of Habitat III, how it relates to Sen’s theories on development, and how it relates to my capstone project on inclusive recreation.

The New Urban Agenda was adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016. The Agenda represents a “shared vision for a better and more sustainable future – one in which all people have equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that cities can offer, and in which international community reconsiders the urban systems and physical form of our urban spaces to achieve this” (p. iv). We are in an age of rapidly increasing urbanization, thus making it paramount that we come together on an international scale to implement creative and innovative ways to create inclusive, smart, and sustainable cities. As the documents states, “cities can be the source of solutions to, rather than the cause of, the challenges that our world is facing today” (p. iv).

This topic reflects Sen’s theory of development as freedom. Sustainable cities that are smart and inclusive allow people to make independent choices, such as what services they utilize, where they live, where they go to school, etc. Habitat III is putting forth a framework for freedom in cities, where people face no obstacles or barriers and that access is universal.

This week’s topics relates directly to my project on inclusive recreation. As we discussed in class, smart cities can utilize technology, such as phone apps, to make green space in cities more accessible by informing people of how to get there and if there are services on-site to accommodate them, such as ramps. Recreation in inclusive cities must account for persons with disabilities. Habitat III, paragraph 36, mentions “… promoting appropriate measures in cities and human settlements that facilitate access for persons with disabilities,” particularly public spaces, education and health facilities, and other facilities (p. 13). Paragraph 37 also discusses accessibility and inclusivity by “… promoting safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces, including… gardens and parks… designed and managed to ensure human development and build peaceful, inclusive and participatory societies…” (p. 13). Habitat III is also similar to SDG #11, which I also plan on incorporating into my research.

I plan on using Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda alongside the CRPD to closely examine and assess DC’s legislative framework for inclusive recreation. I think it will be beneficial to have several international guidelines and frameworks when looking at DC so that I can draw conclusions on what DC is and is not doing and what is and is not working.


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