Urbanization presents unique challenges and opportunities. With almost 70% of global humanity projected to live in urban areas by 2050, this unprecedented growth urgently calls for responsive mechanisms to combat unsustainable patters of development that pose threat to our environments and livelihoods. At the Habitat III Conference that will take place in Quito, Ecuador from 17-20th October 2016, a New Urban Agenda will be adopted by UN Member states to renew political commitment and define the course for global efforts to guide more sustainable urban development for the next 20 years. As the conference draws near, an ambitious revised zero draft of the New Urban Agenda that reflects extensive consultation with experts and the public is available for review.
Why is the New Urban Agenda important for water operators?
Sustainable urbanization and water management are closely interlinked and interdependent. In light of global urbanization trends, cities are increasingly presenting themselves as the new stage for addressing critical water management issues. As the New Urban Agenda will inform urban strategies at national and local levels around the world for the 20 years to come, many in the water sector have been concerned to ensure that the agenda benefits from a water perspective.
Water Voices Heard
In early 2016, GWOPA organized an online consultation and expert group meeting with an ‘urban waters hub’ that produced a set of recommendations. Now, in the zero draft, the essence of many of these recommendations are well captured. For example, Paragraph 100 gives voice to the group’s inputs with the endeavour to“…equip public water utilities as a means to promote the universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all and adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, as well as to promote sustainable water management through capacity development, including knowledge sharing and peer learning partnerships.” The same text gives credence to initiatives like GWOPA in its call to “promote financial and operational strengthening of global, regional, national, and local mechanisms to fill the capacity gap in this regard and meet ambitious development objectives.” It also calls for water utilities to collaborate, not only with one another, but to engage across scales and sectors to plan for more livable cities. The Zero draft New Urban Agenda also echoes other of the expert group’s strategic recommendations including calls to take a full water cycle approach, to increase participation, and to plan for resiliency. The draft text will be discussed next at the third preparatory meeting for Habitat III in Surabaya, Indonesia in July.
Are you planning to be in Quito?