Implementing the New Urban Agenda

Image via FIABICI website
Image via FIABICI website

I staffed a stand at the UN Habitat III Exhibition in Quito, Ecuador in October. FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation launched The City We Need is Affordable book during the conference. Any citizen of Quito could visit attend the UN meetings, the Exhibition and the Habitat III Village. For a week we demonstration how our cities can be sociality inclusive and engaging.

The City We Need is Affordable book was the culmination of a contest to identify practical, profitable and scalable private sector solutions to quickly increase the supply of affordable, accessible and equitable housing around the world. Housing markets are the foundation of economically vibrant and inclusive cities. Millennials want to work, live and play in diverse cities and are driving the revitalization of many urban districts.

I live in the great city of Chicago – a city still influenced by the Burnham plan of 1909. In 50 years from 1870 to 1920, Chicago grew from 300,000 people to 3 million. Such rapid urban growth required a grand plan and vision. The Burnham plan envisioned 100 years into the future. Today the majority of the world’s cities lack a grand plan thus informality grows.

Our cities must be walkable and transit friendly. Do you walk to work? Take Public Transit? Why not? For too long our cities have been planned around cars. Recently Chicago reduced the number of parking spaces required for new residential developments. Yet at the same time, I can see a new “flyover” being built for the two major “expressways” that merge in downtown Chicago.

Safety, health and wellbeing are everyone’s concern. We need a new focus on public, private partnerships where everyone comes to the table willing to reboot and rethink our cities. The New Urban Agenda is the output document for Habitat III. It calls for us to stop looking outside ourselves for solutions and to acknowledge and honor the successful solutions entrepreneurs are already undertaking.

When we are willing to take responsibility for our block, to take pride in our sense of place, to learn and to innovate in our own spheres, then transformation is inevitable. I am excited and looking forward to the next few years as engaged citizens drive positive change in cities around the world with a renewed sense of urgency.

Bill Endsley is a Global Programs Consultant with CIPE and Principal of World Citizen Consulting.