This One UN event will take place during the Habitat 3 conference in Quito and is convened by GWOPA at UN-Habitat and the Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (IAS) at United Nations University (UNU), and co-convened by the Global Water Partnership. The session will draw on the epertise of water specialists and practitioners to address questions around the vision of waters in the New Urban Agenda and steps to realize it.
Water provides essential basic services in cities, supporting the health and dignity of urban populations, and enabling social integration and economic activity. Yet as urbanization intensifies and the changing climate modifies the water cycle, sustainability imperatives oblige us to seriously shift the way water is valued and managed in cities.
Beyond basic services, cities need to value water as a feature of the urban landscape, a provider of ecological services, public space, or as a wildlife habitat. Water’s potential uses at different grades of quality, offering sources of energy, nutrients and services like cleaning and cooling must also be seized. The way water shapes and itself is influenced by urban planning and design must be taken into greater consideration, in light of both over-abundance and scarcity. Depending on how it is managed in cities, water can be a threat or a salvation, an eyesore or an asset, unwanted waste or a valuable resource, a transmitter of sickness or a source of good health. Seizing the better outcomes depends on a richer appreciation of water in cities and a more proactive approach to the linkages between urban and water management.