The report, launched in New York this afternoon, paints parallel pictures of runaway urbanization, environmental degradation, and fast-growing economic and justice challenges, while showing how Habitat II, the Millennium Development Goals, and improvements in best planning, governance, and policy practices have led to important improvements in both urban life on the ground and tools for coping. In the words of UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos:
The Habitat Agenda adopted at the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in 1996 was influential in the recognition of the right to adequate housing, sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world, and the increased participation of the private sector and non-governmental organizations in the urbanization process. It reinforced the role of local authorities and stirred progress in strengthening fiscal and financial management capacities. However, in general terms, implementation, financing and monitoring have remained major challenges.(UN-Habitat 2016, iv)
The report's ten chapters discuss the 20 year movement from Habitat II to Habitat III, urbanization as a transformative force, housing, the widening urban divide, justice and sustainability, urban governance, reinventing city planning, changing urban economies, and principles and proposed components of the New Urban Agenda. It's key messages are summarized:
When well-managed, urbanization fosters social and economic advancement and improved quality of life for all.
The current model of urbanization is unsustainable in many respects. Many cities all over the world are grossly unprepared for the challenges associated with urbanization.
A new agenda is required to effectively address these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities offered by urbanization.
The new urban agenda should promote cities and human settlements that are environmentally sustainable, resilient, socially inclusive,safe and violence-free, economically productive (http://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-launches-the-world-cities-report-2016/)
Chapter Seven, "A city that plans: reinventing urban planning," for which I served as lead consultant, examines changes in city planning across the globe in light of the principles of New Urban Planning discussed in 2006 at the World Urban Forum in Vancouver.