Inclusive Cities, Habitat III, New Urban Agenda

This blog post discusses the idea of inclusive cities and the New Urban Agenda.
Continue reading

Advertisements

Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda

With rapid urbanization occurring all around the world, the need to create more inclusive and smart cities is more important than ever. An inclusive city includes both sustainable and equitable urban services, such as water supply, housing and transport facilities, and social services, such as education, health and public space. Ultimately, an inclusive city is a space where everyone, regardless of ability, in enabled and empowered to fully participate in the opportunities that cities have to offer (ADB 2011). Moreover, all people should have the rights and opportunities to navigate a city and make choices, regardless of infrastructure available.

The New Urban Agenda plays a significant role in helping realize this goal of inclusive cities. Developed from the Habitat III conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador in 2016, the New Urban Agenda is a road-map to promote a sustainable and equitable model of urban development that focuses on urban planning and design. This framework will be utilized as a guideline for 20 years until the next Habitat conference. Additionally, we discussed the General Assembly of Partners (GAP) and the Partner Constituent Group. The GAP is a platform for non-governmental partners and includes 16 groups. Similarly, the PCG includes 14 groups, some of which are children and youth, civil society organizations, grassroots organizations and the media. The downside to these group platforms that include other stakeholders working in inclusive urban development is that there are many different competing interests at play. Similarly, these groups must follow governing rules, expectations, and protocols of UN Habitat, which can limit their role in a way.

Yet the language around inclusive cities has become controversial, mainly due to “rights” language. Since inclusive development for persons with disabilities has been recognized by many as a human rights issue, this infers that inclusive cities must exist to follow human rights. Yet, it also suggests that not having inclusive cities is a human rights issue and that has been controversial to many stakeholders and governments.

For my capstone project, I will be conducting a case study on Malaysia where I will look at how Malaysia has responded to the CRPD Article 24. From reading through government documents regarding education, I have noticed that Malaysia strives to create inclusive spaces for all students, but especially for those with physical disabilities. This is mostly evident in their most recent national education policy, Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025. Yet, from reading general news sources and op-eds, it seems that schools in rural and poorer areas lack the resources and accessibility that other schools in larger cities have.

References:

Asian Development Bank: Inclusive Cities (2011)

Smart Cities Council at smartcitiescouncil.com

Malaysia Education Blueprint, 2015-2025 (2015)

Inclusive Smart Cities

The Asian Development Bank defined making a city more “inclusive” as: “ensuring the poor and vulnerable have access to the services they need to better their quality of life.” With the onset of rapid urbanization and growing inequality, cities and governments have taken notice and decided to make infrastructural changes that will help improve quality of life for all. The ADB lists its key elements of creating this inclusive city: urban environmental infrastructure development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and poverty reduction measures. While these are all broad, their goals reflect those of cities around the world. Continue reading

Habitat III

One of the concepts that we discussed in the first meeting of our class was what being disabled really means. One of the concepts that was raised was that a person is only disabled once they can not do something because of their position. This means that if the world adapts itself to become more adaptive to “disabilities”, citizens across the world aren’t restricted. The idea of smart, inclusive cities is the starting marker that would allow for a wider variety of citizens to be included in society. By avoiding marginalization of any demographic of people, cities can grow and promote safe, interactive, sustainable and rich urban spaces for all residents. While all smart cities should be inclusive cities, not al inclusive cities are necessarily smart cities. Smart cities focus on using analytics and sensors to create efficiency and predict was the society needs, and often factor inclusivity into decisions that are made. However, inclusive cities do not need to be super technologically advanced to avoid discrimination. I believe this is a fact that is not often addressed with clarity, often thinking the two terms are synonymous. However, the main component that is shared between the two concepts revolves around future planning to create cities that will grow and change as the population grows and changes.

To address creating cities that would fit these dimensions, the New Urban Agenda: Habitat III conference was held in October 2016 in Quito. The NUA creates a 20-year roadmap for achieving the goal of making cities and settlements more inclusive, resilient, safe, and sustainable and echoes Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities. One large change between the Habitat III document and other the previous NUAs was the emphasis of pre-planning to prevent slumming from occurring. In previous NUAs, there was a large focus on the importance of “de-slumming”, and fixing the horrible living conditions by vacating residence, tearing down the slums and rebuilding – a timely and expensive initiative. In habitat III, there was a large emphasis placed on creating living spaces that would prevent slumming to begin with, a much more economical and logistically simpler concept. As the world’s population is rapidly urbanizing, with more than half of the world’s population now living in an urban setting, pre-planning is more influential than ever.

Specific preplanning is being focused around PWD. The NUA clarifies specific actions that ensure PWDs are included in the urban development. By designing a universally accessible building, urban spaces can improve their ability to accommodate to all members of the city. However, one thing that I wish was addressed more in the class were the environmental ramifications of smart and inclusive cities. Obviously, having inclusivity is a must, but the question arises as what is necessary for inclusive cities and what is creating more waste. The NUA emphasizes the importance of sustainability in the framework, however, all new development comes with an environmental cost. At the moment, cities consume more resources and produce more waste than any other areas of the world. (Environmental effect of cities: https://www.prb.org/urbanization-an-environmental-force-to-be-reckoned-with/) While it is impossible to deny that urbanization is continuing to occur at a rapid rate, we must think not only what is best for the citizens living in the cities, but the total ramification of urbanization and how to minimize the negative effects on the Earth.

The NUA has created a new, international dialogue. One that emphasizes, not only the importance of planned urbanization but also one that declares the “Right to Cities” and the need for planning for all citizens.

Inclusive Cities

As the world’s population has increased, so has the sizes of its cities. This does not particularly refer to the area cities occupy, but rather the number of people living in cities. Though cities only take up about 2 percent of the land on Earth, they consume over 60 percent of global energy consumption and contribute to 70 percent of the economy (GDP), global waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. City populations are diverse, generally including many cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes. Unfortunately, inequities are frequently apparent among city populations as some citizens are not allowed the same opportunities as others due to circumstances often beyond their control. Continue reading

Inclusive Cities and the New Urban Agenda

Our discussion of inclusive cities this week left me with a few questions regarding the equity of smart cities. While I agree that smart cities are an essential component of inclusive sustainable development, I am wrestling with how to make this a completely global conversation rather than a Westernized solution to the problem of inclusivity.  Continue reading

Inclusive Cities, Habitat III, and the NUA

Our discussion of inclusive cities today recalled some memories of studying abroad in Seoul. By many standards, Seoul can be considered a smart city; it incorporates numerous apps for transportation, safety mechanisms in CCTV, and the use of innovative technology can be found in nearly every neighborhood in the city. However, aspects of inclusivity in the city were sporadically, almost as if they had been stuffed into a city-plan last minute. Continue reading