Policy & Global Development, Urban Planning, Environment and Health

The New Urban Agenda Incorporates Health as a Cross-Cutting Criterion for Sustainable Urban Development

ISGlobal participates in Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development

Photo: Photo: Habitat III Conference

By 2050, an estimated 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. The UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, concluded last Thursday, October 20 in Quito, Ecuador, with the launching of the New Urban Agenda. This document seeks to set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development for the coming years and has included health as a major, cross-cutting criterion.

Thus, in its goal of “rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities”, the UN has highlighted the close association between urbanism and health, an association that the World Health Organization (WHO) has further reinforced this week through the presentation of its report “Health as the pulse of the new urban agenda” at Habitat III. The document, to which ISGlobal has contributed, gathers the main evidence and priorities in urban health in order to support the implementation of the new model of city planning and management.

The document cites increasing evidence that associates “the quality of urban environment with lifestyle and dietary habits which are drivers of today’s epidemics of obesity and diabetes”. It also underlines that “urban policies that lead to a greater air pollution contribute to premature deaths from strokes, heart attacks and cancers”. In this way, the report calls for “an urban planning that places health upfront – by improving access to Green and open spaces, for example, and controlling the sources of pollution”.

ISGlobal in Habitat III

ISGlobal has been represented in the Habitat III Conference by a delegation from the Urban Planning, Environment and Health (UPEH) Initiative, that participated in two parallel events that took place during the week.

During a session organized by the Clinton Global Initiative, Carolyn Daher, coordinator of the UPEH Initiative, and researcher David Rojas, presented the “Commitment to Action” led by ISGlobal and BCNecologia that seeks to optimize the urban “superblock” model using health criteria.

In addition, the ISGlobal representatives were facilitators at the session “Collaborating Across Sectors to Achieve Urban Health in Sustainable Cities”, organized by the NCD Alliance, among other institutions.

"The New Urban Agenda gives us a new opportunity to learn from our past mistakes in urban planning and integrate not only health criteria, but also environment, social inclusion, and human development in the planning and management of our cities”, concluded David Rojas.