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UN Secretary-General Report Reviews Progress on Implementing Habitat II Outcomes

UN-HABITATAugust 2012: The UN Secretary-General's report on progress made in implementation of the Habitat II conference outcomes recommends preparations towards a third UN conference on housing and sustainable urban development (Habitat III) in 2016, calling for this to be a high-level conference or world summit focusing on the theme of sustainable cities.

The Secretary-General's report on “Implementation of the Outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)” recommends that Habitat III focus on a “New Urban Agenda for the 21st Century” and build on the principles and gains of previous conferences, including the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

Recognizing that urban centers contribute 60 to 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the report recommends that governments provide support to local authorities to enable urban or local mitigation and adaptation policies and strategies. It encourages governments to establish national habitat committees focusing on: preparations for Habitat III; impacts of urbanization on national-level development; creation of decent urban jobs, especially for youth; improvement of urban design and planning for efficiency; national urban policy; and formulation of a global housing strategy.

The report also reviews progress in the implementation of various components of the habitat agenda, including slum upgrading, cities and climate change, and post-disaster and post-conflict reconstruction. On slum upgrading, the report recognizes that the target established under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 has been exceeded ahead of the deadline, but that immense challenges still remain in this area.

The report describes various activities of UN-Habitat in relation to cities and climate change, including: participation at sessions of the subsidiary bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and at the Resilient Cities Congress; the launch of a Global Protocol for Community-scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions; and the joint launch, with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank, of the Knowledge Centre on Cities and Climate Change (“K4C”) website, a global platform for knowledge-sharing.

The report further highlights UN-Habitat's launch, during the UNCSD, of a new four-year Urban Resilience Indexing Programme to improve the resilience of urban systems in withstanding and recovering from crisis, noting that an improved focus on disaster risk reduction (DRR) was one of the commitments made at UNCSD. Other UNCSD commitments relevant to the human settlement agenda are the recognition of the need for: a holistic approach to urban development; an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities; sustainable development policies that support inclusive housing and social services; and water and sanitation as a human right.

The Secretary-General's report calls for alignment between the sustainable development goals in relation to sustainable cities, and the goals of the new urban agenda to be developed in the lead-up to Habitat III. [Implementation of the Outcome of Habitat II and Strengthening of UN-Habitat]