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New Urban Agenda (UN Quito Declaration)

New Urban Agenda: Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All

Set against a background of rapid population growth projections and resulting urbanisation in many parts of the world, the New Urban Agenda was formally adopted on 20 October 2016. It takes urbanisation a key “transformative trend” with more people than ever before living in cities and posits sustainable urban development as a key plank of sustainable development more generally. As the report puts it: “this poses massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety and natural resources, among others. It also acknowledges that few of these challenges are new but all remain to be overcome satisfactorily.

As the sub-title suggests, the report overtly links sustainable urban development to human rights and talks of  equal use and enjoyment of cities and other settlements with the ultimate goal of producing “ just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements to foster prosperity and quality of life for all. It emphasises the rights to adequate housing, an adequate standard of living more generally, equal access to public goods and services. This then is a very broad approach encompassing a huge range of dimensions.

As regards what we might think of as the “territorial” dimension, there are several explicit references to the rural-urban linkages. At para 50 for example, under the heading of “Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Prosperity, there is a is a mobility related commitment to “….encouraging urban–rural interactions and connectivity by strengthening sustainable transport and mobility, and also technology and communication networks and infrastructure, underpinned by planning instruments based on an integrated urban and territorial approach ….. This should include connectivity between cities and their surroundings, peri-urban and rural areas”, in the section regarding Environmentally Sustainable and Resilient Urban development there is a further commitment, this time to “…. promoting the conservation and sustainable use of water by rehabilitating water resources within the urban, peri-urban and rural areas.”. The report specifically addresses planning and  the paper claims that “We will encourage the implementation of sustainable urban and territorial planning, including city-region and metropolitan plans, to encourage synergies and interactions among urban areas of all sizes and their peri-urban and rural surroundings”, Land-use planning more especially is also referenced – again with a link to mobility in para 114 where there is an undertaking to support: ”Better and coordinated transport and land-use planning, which would lead to a reduction of travel and transport needs, enhancing connectivity between urban, peri-urban and rural areas”, nor is food supply ignored and we read that “We will promote coordination of sustainable food security and agriculture policies across urban, peri-urban and rural areas”.

Last updated: 31 August, 2020