WUC Booklet Highlights Cities as Key to Sustainable Future

UN-HABITAT4 March 2014: Cities are key battlegrounds in global efforts to achieve a sustainable future, according to ‘The City We Need,' a booklet launched by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) on 4 March 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The booklet sets out a vision of the 21st century city, recommends nine principles for achieving sustainable urban development, and proposes a policy and legislative framework for a new urban paradigm.

The booklet is a consensus document produced by the World Urban Campaign (WUC), a platform of over 70 institutions and networks coordinated by UN-HABITAT. It outlines principles and paths for a new urban agenda in advance of the World Urban Forum and the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), as well as discussions on the post-2015 development agenda. It also aims to raise awareness about links between urbanization and global development challenges such as poverty and climate change.

Principles for a new urban paradigm include that cities are: socially inclusive; well planned, walkable and transit-friendly; regenerative, including energy efficient and low-carbon; economically vibrant and inclusive; singular in identity; safe; healthy; affordable and equitable; and managed at the metropolitan level.

At the launch event, UN and civil society experts said that how countries plan, build and manage their cities is critical in achieving sustainable futures. Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, described the publication as expressing the aspiration of a new urbanization model. Cautioning that using “old-fashioned ways” to build cities will perpetuate crises such as climate change, limited development and lack of dignity and integration, Clos recommended an urban development paradigm shift.

Over 60% of the built environment needed to accommodate an expected doubling of the world's urban population has yet to be built, according to the booklet. Nicholas You, World Urban Campaign, stressed “if we do that right we have every hope of achieving sustainable development for everybody. If we do it wrong, we are in very, very serious trouble.”

The 2012 Manifesto for Cities initially articulated the nine principles, which have been further refined in the booklet. [UN Press Release] [Publication: The City We Need] [Launch Event Website] [World Urban Campaign Website] [7th World Urban Forum]