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Research Activities: IEE Members at Preparatory Committee of UN Conference

PhD IDS students Raffael Beier and Mariana Vilmondes participated in the second session of the Preparatory Committee of the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

The second session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom2) of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) took place at the UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from 14 to 16 April, 2015. Government representatives, various international and civil society organisations, and academics convened to work on a New Urban Agenda.
UN Plenarsaal
A look into the plenary hall (photo: private)

Raffael Beier and Mariana Vilmondes attended the Conference on behalf of the IEE, funded by the Research School. The participation in the PrepCom2 stands in line with the focus topic "housing" in IEE's redefined Research Cluster 2 "The Effectiveness of Interventions and Policies for Development: social, political and legal science perspectives." The IEE was the only German non-governmental institution that applied to participate in PrepCom2.

Expected Thematic Shifts

The goal of Habitat III is to adopt a New Urban Agenda that should guide urban development for the next two decades. The agenda re-considers previous principles and targets proposed in the Istanbul Declaration 1996, which was the result of Habitat II. Habitat III will also be connected to the new debate about Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, thematic shifts are expected towards decentralisation in order to guarantee the best local implementation and evaluation of policies. For these purposes, the UN-Habitat held several panel discussions and suggested a three-legged approach based on three pillars: legislation, urban planning and design, and decentralised municipal financing.

The Three Pillars Explained

In the words of Secretary General Dr. Clos, legislation is important for sustainable urban development since the "outcome quality of the urban settlement is dependent on the set of rules and regulations and its implementability". In addition, strategic urban planning and design is necessary to support the special needs of the city and its inhabitants; needs such as inclusion, safety, resilience, and sustainability. Moreover, strengthened municipal finances are essential to ensure the implementation and evaluation of urban policies. Decentralisation of policy-making requires as well decentralisation of budgeting and financing in order to ensure sustainable urban development.
Furthermore, municipal authorities are essential for bringing civil society and other stakeholders together. It is at the local level, where people should be encouraged to present their expectation towards an urban future and where they will meet partners like private companies or NGOs. Yet, national urban policies are important to guide local and regional strategies towards international sustainable goals.
At the same time, topics such as inclusion of migrants, the homeless, children, elderly, and disabled people were still only briefly discussed according to our observations. The same applies for the implementation of new means of evaluation and monitoring, although many participating civil society stakeholders have called for more evaluation in the future, as Habitat II has not been evaluated at all.

The Way Ahead

PrepCom2 was part of the preparatory cycle until the Habitat III Conference, to be held in Quito, in October 2016. The next preparatory session will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in July 2016, where final negotiations on a draft outcome are expected. Meanwhile, national urban forums, the World Urban Campaign, and urban thinkers' campus projects are taking place for building consensus and developing solutions with strong civil society participation.

BeierRaffael Beier
Research Fellow + PhD Student
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Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-24857
Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

VilmondesMariana Vilmondes Alves
Associated PhD IDS Student
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