Dossier: Habitat III - Sustainable Urban Development

Dossier: Habitat III - Sustainable Urban Development

Photo: Jorge Aurelio Alvarez Yáñez. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

By the middle of this century, at least two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Global urbanization presents enormous challenges for sustainable development, but also offers great opportunities for a better future. Habitat III – the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that will be taking place in Quito, Ecuador from the 17th to the 20th of October, 2016 – will be dedicated to those challenges and opportunities. The conference will be adopting a “New Urban Agenda” (NUA) for sustainable urban development.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation is taking the Habitat conference as an opportunity to reflect on the conditions for sustainable urban development in a conference of its own entitled “Co-producing sustainable cities?”. The relationship between local governments and civil society in the cities of the global North and South play a special role in this regard: the New Urban Agenda places high hopes on local governments as change agents for sustainable urban development, as they play a central role in the implementation of global sustainability goals. An urban agenda can only be sustainable if local civil society is involved in their implementation, however.

This dossier highlights key controversies of the Habitat III process and provides a platform for experts on civic engagement as well as urban practitioners.

The conference “Habitat III: Co-producing sustainable cities?” will take the Habitat III conference as an opportunity to discuss the conditions that sustainable urban development requires. Representatives of city governments and civil society from the global South and North will be discussing these issues.

Thursday, 15.09.2016, 16:0021:00
Friday, 16.09.2016, 9:0015:30

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung - Bundesstiftung
Schumannstr. 8
10117 Berlin

cover urban future

Publication Series on Ecology 5: The sustainable city of tomorrow faces not only ecological, but also major social challenges, and these are reasons enough to dedicate a conference and this associated compilation to urban development and urban lifestyles of the future.

Waste Management in Belo Horizonte

"Inclusive recycling" is the keyword to waste management in Belo Horizonte. In the mid-nineties the local government started to integrate informal recyclers, most of them women, in the official waste stream. Now it is a developed system. Waste specialist Sonia Dias explains how it works.

New municipal policy in New Delhi

In 2015 the Aam Aadmi Party ("Common Man's Party") surprisingly came to power in the Metropolitan Region of Delhi. The party was formed out of the civic movement "India against Corruption". Government advisor Roshan Shankar outlines the approach to participation and air pollution of the new public administration.

Conference report

Skyline from Shenzhen

The conference “Habitat III: Co-producing sustainable cities?” addressed the conditions for sustainable urban development. This was the look specifically on the relationship between civil society and City Government. On the Conference report.

We must not leave urban development to bureaucracy and investors.
Ralf Fücks


Poverty in Delhi

India has the largest number of homeless and landless persons in the world, as well as the greatest number of urban and rural poor.  Shivani Chaudhry, the Executive Director of Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), argues that the New Urban Agenda must pay more attention to the human right to adequate housing. Interview with Shivani Chaudhry.

Participation and Civil Society

Wohnhaus in Barcelona

In the city of Barcelona, one can observe the joint power of civil movements and a progressive, accountable government to implement the social right to decent housing.

Slum Construction, Cebu City, Philippines

Cities change and evolve constantly, and they do not act as a coherent entity. They are “co-produced.” To think of co-production as a concept should help us to think of a sustainable urban policy and action - shaped and developed by constructive conflict.


Bhanu Ben Jadav mixes cement in an apartment

Why communities want to co-produce with the state? The experience of communities in the global south is that it is important not to pass over responsibility to the state, because if citizen’s involvement is reduced it is unlikely that the services will be maintained. Diana Mitlin explores a radical concept of participation.

Supporters of the opposition leader Julius Maada Bio protest against vote fraud in Freetown, Sierra Leone in November 2012

Close on the heels of the UN adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 the HABITAT III conference offers the international community a timely opportunity to revisit and revision its commitments to putting human rights at the heart of sustainable urban development. The global context is adverse, marked by growing inequity, rising levels of homelessness and landlessness, forced migration, environmental degradation and climate change.

For your further reading


Southeast Asian cities will play a critical role in the unfolding of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is to be launched at the end of 2015. A discussion of the inter-linkages among economic growth, urbanisation, consumption, and the environment.

Creator: Montage/Fotos:Manfred Hornung. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

The implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015/2016 will have drastic impacts on the socio-economic development and democratization of the ten member countries. This dossier and the lecture series seek to explain current political developments, societal changes and economic trends in the region.

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Thanks to superficial cleaning measures plastic waste will probably not disturb the Olympic Sailing Competitions in the Guanabara Bay. A long-term restoration of the bay, however, stays indispensable as Emanuel Alencar illustrates in this article.

Cartoon criticizing the eviction practice

One the most symbolic cases of Brazil's protest movements against relocation, was the resistance of Vila Autódromo. The historical fight of the community located in the west of Rio de Janeiro, enormously spread around the country.