New agenda for Africa’s sustainable urbanisation to be adopted at UN meet in Quito

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Weak planning of urbanisation is resulting in lost opportunities for growth and transformation for Africa


                    Urbanisation is one of the most important shifts that the African continent will undergo this century. Credit: DFID/ Flicker
Urbanisation is one of the most important shifts that the African continent will undergo this century. Credit: DFID/ Flicker

A New Urban Agenda is set for adoption during the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016.

The New Agenda will be the main outcome of Habitat III, which is expected to guide policies and strategies for sustainable urbanisation globally, taking into account existing commitments including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Both the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognise the urgency and importance of urbanisation, and seek to harness it for inclusive sustainable growth and transformation. However, the potential urbanization could play in Africa’s transformation is not sufficiently reflected in regional, national and sub-national policies and strategies.

Weak capacities to plan and manage urbanisation to ensure its sustainability and optimise related advantages while minimising externalities are resulting in lost opportunities for growth and transformation for Africa.

In this context, Habitat III and its global outcome document (the New Urban Agenda) offer unique opportunities to reinvigorate commitments to promote and advance sustainable urbanization for Africa’s structural transformation.

In 1996, during Habitat II, Africa’s collective engagement and contribution towards the outcome of that global conference was limited. In the context of Habitat III, however, Africa has clearly conveyed its priorities with the adoption of the Common Africa Position on Habitat III by Heads of State at the AUC Summit in Kigali, July 2016.

The Common African Position strategically took into consideration Agenda 2063 and the priority therein to accelerate inclusive growth and transformation. It therefore reasserts, “the urgent need to harness the transformative potential of urbanization in its various facets to facilitate the reduction of poverty in all its forms and inequality as well as achieve an inclusive, integrated, prosperous, stable and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

Implementation, follow up and review of the New Urban Agenda needs to be harmonised with the priority to accelerate inclusive growth and structural transformation, and related policies and strategies in Africa.

Through its engagement at the conference, ECA will promote the role of sustainable urbanization in accelerating inclusive growth and structural transformation in Africa, facilitate a harmonized regional approach towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Africa in line with regional priorities and consolidate the unique position of ECA to translate the New Urban Agenda into regional and national development planning, policies and strategies.

Urbanisation is one of the most important shifts that the African continent will undergo this century. Although the least urbanised regional globally, the region is the fastest urbanising which presents both opportunities and challenges.

The press release was origianlly published in the official website of the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa.

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