AESOP Discussion on the New Urban Agenda

AESOP discussion on the New Urban Agenda

Published at: 19 June 2014 with 1 comment

AESOP is urgently inviting its members to contribute to the New Urban Agenda discussion, launched last week as part of Habitat III, via this blog.

Habitat III, the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, will take place in 2016, and UN-Habitat is in the process of asking local authorities and other Habitat Agenda Partners for their assistance in structuring the Habitat III meetings and formulating a New Urban Agenda. AESOP has been asked to put forward suggestions and will respond directly and via its counterpart GPEAN despite a rather short deadline: the 25th June, 2014.

As AESOP we feel that this is an opportunity to launch a debate within our network, with a view to promoting an agenda from which we can voice our concerns and requests with regards to sustainable urbanization, focusing on, but not limited to, the potential role of planning education.

While ideas that are received before 25th June will be input to UN-Habitat, it is our intention to keep this blog active, and make sure that UN-Habitat is aware of the continuing debate within our community.

We would like to open discussions here on the key concerns for AESOP in the preparations and agenda of Habitat III, and key points AESOP should highlight and request for inclusion in the formulation of a New Urban Agenda.

To start the debate, we open the following points for discussion. We urgently request you to share your views on any additional issues not covered here that you think require inclusion on the Habitat III New Urban Agenda.

  • The New Urban Agenda must stress the importance of well-trained planners who are equipped with the necessary knowledge and competencies for the attainment of sustainable urbanization, resilient regions, smart cities, accessible urban spaces and just societies. 
  • Strengthening the link between practice and research(ers)/academia that deal with the built environment is crucial and should be addressed as a priority.
  • The rapidly emerging debate around the 'right to the city' movement should be addressed in the New Urban Agenda. The right to have a place to stay and to be connected through accessible means of transport, and the right for citizens to meet in spaces and places (squares) as collectives are issues of great importance.
  • The New Urban Agenda should stress the importance of ‘good governance’ as well as allowing discursive practices in support of transparent decision making
  • Urban dynamics beg for approaches which not only focus on a means-end relationship or which are not solely process and consensus driven, but incorporate adaptive attitudes as well as conditional structures which do not just constrain but are also meant to enable. 
  • The New Urban Agenda should above be a social agenda, stressing issues as well-being, liveability, affordability, access and health, and supports identity building of communities and urban collectives.
  • The New Urban Agenda should consider (discontinuous) change being the only constant factor to the urban. This idea affects both institutional and spatial design fundamentally. It also means a break with the idea of linear growth which has proven to be invalid.
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Recent comments

  • Mr Kevin Thomas said:

    Very short notice indeed but an important opportunity for AESOP to make an input to an urgent global debate. The points of discussion listed are all valid; I would make some suggestions from my UK/European perspective: 1. There should be a mention of the impact of diminishing resources for positive urban development and the growing negative impacts of 'fiscal austerity' on the lives of many urban dwellers in terms of reduced services and support for the most vulnerable citizens. This is reducing the 'livability' of cities for many people and is likely to raise social tensions between different social groups. 2. There should be reference to the failure of market-based solutions to address many critical issues in cities. Governments' increased reliance on market solutions since before the Great Recession has allowed a withdrawal from needed interventions in provision such as housing and other services for the lower paid, increasing stress on familes, older people etc. Governments should be encouraged to explore both innovative and older tried and tested non-market approaches to such provision as the housing affordability crisis in cities grows. The UN Habitat Manifesto for Cities (2012) hints at the need to challenge conventional thinking about city building and we should encourage that. 3. The last discussion point seems somewhat arcane. I think I know what it means but it may seem obscure to the policy makers AESOP is trying to influence.

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