Post-2015 Update: Where do Sustainable Cities fit?

By: Dan Petrie (Associate Director of Congressional Relations, HFHI)
October 14, 2013

After the release of the High Level Panel’s report this summer, Habitat for Humanity raised concerns that housing, slums and urbanization were being underrepresented in discussions surrounding the post-2015 development agenda. Perhaps more worrisome is that Millennium Development Goals progress reports continue to tout Goal 7: Target 11, which aims to improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers, as a success story despite the absolute number of people living in slums increasing by over 50 million between 2000 and 2010. With over 170,000 people added each day to cities in the developing world, it’s worth reviewing what’s happened in the post-2015 process since June and identify how this issue can gain more traction moving forward.

As July came to close, the Secretary General released his highly anticipated report, “A life of Dignity for All,” which called for the acceleration of the MDGs toward 2015 and identified key areas of focus in the post-2015 agenda. He demanded no person should “lack shelter or clean water or sanitation” as they help “form the foundations for a decent life” and urged any post-2015 agenda to “meet the challenges of urbanization.”

September witnessed a flurry of activity surrounding the U.N. General Assembly including a special event on the MDGs which produced an outcome document with member states resolving to redouble their efforts and adopt a new development agenda come 2015.

The Ford Foundation hosted an event on Sept 27th where foundation leaders and civil society gathered to discuss sustainable urban development and other pressing topics. There was wide recognition that concrete proposals addressing sustainable cities were desperately needed.  Cities serve as a nexus for a myriad of policy issues. What issues are uniquely urban and what targets might reflect that complexity? Communitas, a coalition advocating for sustainable cities in the new development agenda, was recently formed to help fill this void.

Finally, the Open Working Group has been on hiatus since June, but plans to continue work on November 25th. On January 6-8, the group will spend two days discussing sustainable cities, human settlement and transportation.  At the Ford event, Ambassador Kőrösi, Hungarian representative to the U.N. and co-chair of the Open Working Group, urged stakeholders to “push, provoke and provide an impetus” for the group.  Though land tenure has secured space in several proposals, housing, which plays a central role in poverty reduction, is not yet on the agenda.  The Open Working Group will begin drafting their recommendations in February.  Let’s ensure these critical issues are represented.

To learn more about Habitat’s position click here.

To download Habitat’s newly released Shelter Report on housing microfinance click here.

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