Habitat III: Promoting health for people and planet in the New Urban Agenda

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  • 2016•11•08     Quito

    Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, took place from 17 to 20 October, 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. For UNU-IIGH, it was the culmination of a multifaceted effort to increase the focus on health and wellbeing in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), the conference’s outcome document. The NUA was adopted by 170 nations and will guide sustainable urban development in the decades to come.

    In the run-up to Habitat III, UNU-IIGH facilitated an influential Urban Thinkers Campus in Kuching, Malaysia, actively participated in regional and international preparatory meetings, contributed to a WHO document positioning Health as the Pulse of the New Urban Agenda, and more.

    Building on this work, UNU-IIGH led a variety of activities at Habitat III itself:

    1. ‘Systems approaches for healthier cities.’ Exhibition in the ONE UN Paviliion. UNU-IIGH displayed two posters, showcasing work in partnership with LAC-Urban Health, the International Council for Science (ICSU) global interdisciplinary programme on Urban Health & Wellbeing andthe International Society for Urban Health (ISUH).
    2. ‘Health of People and Planet in the 21st’ Presentation by Uta Dietrich in the Children & Youth Assembly; Thematic Session A: Health & Well-Being: Urban Influences and System Approach.
    3. THRIVE GLOBAL: People, Planet and Participation.’ Book launch moderated by Uta Dietrich, with speaker Trevor Hancock (Victoria University, Canada).
    4. ‘Harnessing Sustainable Urbanisation for Human and Planetary Health.’ UNU-IIGH Side-event with speakers Trevor Hancock, Jose Puppim de Oliveira (UNU-IIGH),and Shipra Narang Suri (ISOCARP), moderated by Jose Siri and Uta Dietrich.

    Research fellow Jose Siri also participated in an ICSU panel on “The Role of Science in Healthy Cities” with fellow panel members Trevor Hancock and Eugenio Raul Villar Montesinos (WHO), moderated by Franz Gatzweiler, Executive Director of the ICSU Urban Health and Wellbeing programme.

    These efforts were well-received. In particular, THRIVE GLOBAL was praised as satisfying a need for effective engagement on healthy, sustainable urban development in languages other than English (the Kuching Statement having been translated into seven languages) and for emphasizing the role of aesthetics in urban health and the use of art to inspire new thinking in this challenging area.

    Most of all, Habitat III offered opportunities to explore the use of systems approaches to improve health and wellbeing in cities through revitalized partnerships and new connections. Ongoing work at UNU-IIGH will build on these opportunities.


    (L-R) Jose Puppim de Oliveira, Uta Dietrich, Trevor Hancock, Shipra Narang Suri, Jose Siri. Click here for more photos.

    Photo: UNU-IIGH. Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0