The UN Conferences on Housing (Habitat) are occurring in the bi-decennial cycle (1976, 1996 and 2016). The United Nations General Assembly decided to convene The Habitat III Conference in its resolution 66/207. The Habitat III Conference reinvigorates the global commitment to sustainable urbanization, to focus on the implementation of a “New Urban Agenda”.
Habitat III was one of the first United Nations global summits after the adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. It gave the opportunity to open discussions on important urban challenges and questions, such as how to plan and manage cities, towns and villages for sustainable development. The discussion of these questions shape the implementation of new global development and climate change goals. In particular the conference elaborates on Goal #11 of the Sustainable Development Goals: "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable."
Habitat II, the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, was held in Istanbul, Turkey from June 3–14, 1996. The conference outcomes were integrated in the Istanbul Declaration. World leaders also adopted the Habitat Agenda as a global plan of action for adequate shelter for all, with the notion of sustainable human settlements driving development in an urbanizing world. Habitat I was the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 31 - June 11, 1976, governments began to recognize the need for sustainable human settlements and the consequences of rapid urbanization, especially in the developing world. The conference outcomes were integrated the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, which carried an action plan with 64 recommendations for National Action. The Conference also established the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements - UNCHS (Habitat).
Habitat III invited all Member States and relevant stakeholders, including parliamentarians, civil society organizations, regional and local government and municipality representatives, professionals and researchers, academia, foundations, women and youth groups, trade unions, and the private sector, as well as organizations of the United Nations system and intergovernmental organizations.
The first session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom1) for Habitat III was held in New York, United Nations Headquarter, from 17 to 18 September 2014. The second session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom2) for Habitat III was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 14 to 16 April 2015. The PrepCom3 will take place from 25 to 27 July 2016, in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The process towards Habitat III include the elaboration of national and regional reports -that will converge in a Global Report- to provide evidence based knowledge on the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and a comprehensive analysis on the global state of urbanization as well as good practices and tools both at the policy and intervention level.
22 stock taking papers on relevant topics, Habitat III Issue Papers, were developed through a collaborative exercise of the United Nations system coordinated by the Habitat III Secretariat.
A number of official Regional and Thematic High Level Meetings involving a wide range of participants are debating priorities for the New Urban Agenda and policy recommendations in the form of a final participants' declaration. The final declaration from Regional and Thematic meetings will be considered official inputs to the Habitat III process.
A total of 10 policy papers on relevant topics will be developed by Policy Units composed of 20 experts each, coming from different geographic areas and constituencies .
The debate towards Habitat III is an ongoing process that includes past sessions of the World Urban Forums, especially the last one held in 2014 in Medellin, Colombia, and National Urban Forums to discuss and deliberate on national priority subjects including the preparation of the HIII National Reports. Beyond the governmental participation in the process through the General Assembly, the engagement to the Conference will include the General Assembly of Partners (GAP) to serve as a broad-based deliberative platform for non-governmental partners in order to develop a consensus for a joined outcome document and other related matters for Habitat III. Together Towards Habitat III campaign also promote a Global Citizenship Survey (2015/16) to embrace all contributions on the path to the final outcome of the Conference harvested through activities and initiatives to raise awareness on the New Urban Agenda. At Habitat III, SuRe® – The Standard for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure, a global voluntary standard which integrates key criteria of sustainability and resilience into infrastructure development and upgrade, was presented by Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation to the broader public.
New Urban Agenda
The primary goal and outcome of the conference was agreement by UN member states on the New Urban Agenda (NUA), which will serve as a guideline for urban development for the next twenty years.
The NUA makes frequent references to related UN agreements, including the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development passed in 1992, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015–2030), and the Paris climate agreement, all issued in 2015.
- National urban policies promoting "integrated systems of cities and human settlements" in furtherance of "sustainable integrated urban development".
- Stronger urban governance "with sound institutions and mechanisms that empower and include urban stakeholders" along with checks and balances, to promote predictability, social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental protection.
- Reinvigorated "long-term and integrated urban and territorial planning and design in order to optimize the spatial dimension of the urban form and deliver the positive outcomes of urbanization"; and
- Effective financing frameworks "to create, sustain and share the value generated by sustainable urban development in an inclusive manner."
urban planning and design instruments that support sustainable management and use of natural resources and land, appropriate compactness and density, polycentrism, and mixed uses, through infill or planned urban extension strategies as applicable, to trigger economies of scale and agglomeration, strengthen food system planning, enhance resource efficiency, urban resilience, and environmental sustainability.
We commit ourselves to adopting a smart-city approach that makes use of opportunities from digitization, clean energy and technologies, as well as innovative transport technologies, thus providing options for inhabitants to make more environmentally friendly choices and boost sustainable economic growth and enabling cities to improve their service delivery.
Right to the city
The NUA includes language about a "right to the city", a debated concept referring to popular control over urban processes, but without definite implications for who will prevail when different parties' interests are in conflict.
The NUA calls for both public and private financing. Public financing may be derived from the economic gains from urbanization, including land and property value and infrastructure projects. Development funds and development banks are envisioned as "intermediaries for urban financing". (NUA ¶130–153).
the participation of a diverse range of multilateral financial institutions, regional development banks and development finance institutions, cooperation agencies, private-sector lenders and investors, cooperatives, moneylenders and microfinance banks to invest in affordable and incremental housing in all its forms. (NUA ¶140)
- Luisa Bravo & Mirko Guaralda, of the Queensland University of Technology, with Hendrik Tieben of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, launched the Journal of Public Space on 19 October 2016 at the Habitat III Urban Library. The journal deals with issues related to public space and its influence on culture, behavior, and development.
- The International Urban Development Association (Association Internationale du Développement Urbain, INTA) met on 27–30 November 2016 for one of a series of 18 "Initiative for Habitat III" conferences which began in May 2015. The conference discussed implementing the New Urban Agenda, emphasizing the importance of local governments and non-governmental organizations.
- A group of Multilateral Development Banks (African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, CAF - Development Bank of Latin America, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank Group, Islamic Development Bank, and the World Bank Group) issued a joint statement in support of Habitat III and committing to "support the implementation of the UN's New Urban Agenda through direct financing, catalyzing other resources, as well as domestic resource mobilization."
- United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)
- The New Urban Agenda
- United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
- Seventh session of the World Urban Forum, Medellin
- Habitat III, la visión de la sociedad latinoamericana (spanish)
- Wolfgang Amann & Sandra Jurasszovich, "Habitat III — a critical review of the New Urban Agenda"; Housing Finance International, Spring 2017.
- Istanbul Declaration of Human Settlements  "UH-Habitat". Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- The Habitat Agenda Goals and Principles, Commitments and the Global Plan of Action [permanent dead link] "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- The Vancouver Declaration of Human Settlements [permanent dead link]"UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Our Executive Director "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Member States "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Major Groups and Stakeholders "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- UN and IGOs "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Vanesa Castán Broto, "The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development: Here's what happened at Habitat III—the world's biggest conference on cities"; Journal of Housing and Community Development, Jan/Feb 2017. Republication of "Here's what happened at Habitat III" at The Conversation.
- Preparatory Committee 1: 17–18 September 2014 "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Preparatory Committee 2: 14–16 April 2015 "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- "Preparatory Committee III | Habitat III". www.habitat3.org. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
- Issue Papers and Policy Units "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Regional and Thematic Meetings for the Preparatory Process of Habitat III "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Issue Papers and Policy Units "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- National Urban Forums "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- How Partners Can Contribute to Habitat III "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-06. Retrieved 2015-09-01."UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Together Towards Habitat III  "UN-Habitat".Retrieved September 1, 2015.
- Luisa Bravo & Mirko Guaralda, "Our commitment to implement contents related to public space included in the New Urban Agenda adopted at the UN Habitat III conference"; Journal of Public Space 2(1), 2017.
- Vanessa Watson, "Locating planning in the New Urban Agenda of the urban sustainable development goal"; Planning Theory 15(4), 2016; doi:10.1177/1473095216660786.
- New Urban Agenda, Habitat III Secretariat, 2017; A/RES/71/256*; ISBN 978-92-1-132731-1; p. 15.
- Event at Habitat III and Journal of Public Space 1(1).
- John Papagni, "INTA 40 Focuses on Habitat III"; Journal of Housing & Community Development, Jan/Feb 2017. See also Initiative for Habitat III on INTA website.
- "Habitat III: Multilateral Development Banks from Around the World Collaborate to Support 'New Urban Agenda'"; World Bank, 18 October 2016.