Habitat III adopts a New Urban Agenda to improve world urbanization over the next 20 years



At the close of the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, the United Nations adopted the New Urban Agenda with recommendations to improve world urbanization over the next 20 years.

“The New Urban Agenda is an ambitious agenda which aims to pave the way towards making cities and human settlements more inclusive, ensuring that everyone can benefit from urbanization, (and) paying particular attention to those in those in vulnerable situations. This is a vision of pluralistic, sustainable, and resilient societies.,” emphasized Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN Habitat in his address.

We believe countries can make commitments to implement the Agenda focusing on five issues: the need to apply national urban policies; legislation reform for sustainable cities; appropriate urban planning and design; funding for urbanization; and inner-city renovation.

According to the UN, the New Urban Agenda promotes the Right to the City; urban densification around the city perimeter; zoning for mixed land use; landscape and natural resource preservation; and public spaces for all.

Some 45,000 participants in the Habitat III Conference arrived from 167 countries, including Colombia, the United States, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany and Venezuela.

Clos highlighted civil society, academia, and community representatives as natural actors (in sustainable urban development) and encouraged their participation in discussions to enrich the Conference.



Fundación Avina and Ford Foundation co-facilitated a meeting of the philanthropic and civil society sector (as part of the General Assembly of Partners in Philanthropy) during which Ban Ki-Moon addressed the topic of philanthropy and the New Urban Agenda.

“I have seen how the participation of foundations, philanthropy, has moved the Habitat III process forward, and we have the expectation they will continue to contribute with their expertise, vision, resources, anything available,” said Director Ban Ki-moon.

At the same time, he emphasized the commitment of those in power to continue building a solid alliance with foundations to implement the mandates of the New Urban Agenda.

“The clarity of foundations as well as the United Nations is the city problem is not only a problem of mayors, of governments, but it is also a challenge to society as a whole… the private sector, civil society, foundations, and academia have a fundamental and critical role to advance the implementation of these New Urban Agenda agreements,” emphasized Gabriel Baracatt, Executive Director of Fundación Avina.

Avina and several allied organizations actively participated in various areas of the Habitat III Conference.

Avina took part in the Stakeholders Roundtable: “Innovation and Collaboration: The Role of Philanthropy in the New Urban Agenda” where Mr. Baracatt shared the floor with: Yolanda Kakabadse, World Wildlife Fund; Xavier Briggs, Ford Foundation; Georgia Pessoa, Fundação Roberto Marinho; Natalie Ross, Council on Foundations; Juan Carlos Villegas, Fundación Mario Santa María; Dharitri Patnaik, Bernard Van Leer Foundation; Restu Prastiwi Danamon, Peduli Foundation; David Edwards, Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation; and Ali Khan, European Foundation Centre.


“Thirty-five million Latin Americans are in the processes of civil society to monitor and make proposals,” said Baracatt.

Roundtable participants explored ideas and innovative practices to implement the New Urban Agenda and analyzed linkages with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. They also discussed strategies to fund development. Philanthropic sector leaders exchanged ideas and explained why the sector should support the New Urban Agenda; how the sector could be more effective; and the use of a variety of innovative tools, processes, and initiatives. The focus was on practical applications, monitoring, and implementation.


The Networking Event: “Meaningful Innovation: Urban Transformations for Building More Equitable Cities in Latin America” was supported by Avina as well as Fundación Alfredo Zolezzi, Latin American Development Bank (CAF), Social Progress Imperative, and World Transforming Technologies (WTT)– all of which are members of the Meaningful Innovation Platform.

During this activity, several panels offered reflections on Meaningful Innovation as a social innovation process that combines technological and business innovations to accelerate and bring systemic changes to scale. The convergence of social, technological, and business innovations will increase efficiencies in efforts to reach New Urban Agenda goals for housing and sustainable urban development, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.

The effective transformation of Latin America toward a more inclusive, sustainable, and equitable region cannot be achieved by a disjointed society. Rather, this process requires impacts that will reach millions of people and strengthen public-private sector alliances.



Building Resilient, Equitable, and Sustainable Cities” From left to right: Maite Rodriguez Blandón, Huairou Commission; Adriana Turek, Citibank Argentina, public and governmental affairs; Paula Ellinger de Fundación Avina, Nohra Padilla, Recyclers Leader in Colombia,Alexis Sánchez, National Secretary, of Water, Ecuador; and Dari Santos, Engajamundo co-founder.



Sharing experiences with innovative projects for social inclusion and equity. From left to right: Zuleica Goulart, Coordinator, Programa Ciudades Sustentable Brasil; José Morales Rodriguez, National Director, Hábitat y Asentamientos Humanos, Ecuador; Marcela Mondino, Fundación Avina); Juan Martín Lutteral business leader, Argentina; Sebastián Pilo Director, Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia) Argentina (ACIJ); and Monica Villegas, Executive Secretary, Social Progress Index, Colombia.

The event “Inclusive Recycling: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Solid Waste Management in Cities” was organized by Avina and the Iniciativa Regional para el Reciclaje Inclusivo (Regional Initiative for Inclusive Recycling).

Avina participated in this panel alongside the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Multilateral Investment Fund of the IDB Group, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo., and the Red Latinoamericana de Recicladores (Latin American Recyclers Network).

14681941_1280583565318649_5943857820432173743_o-1“We have the challenge of recyclers’ inclusion in urban waste management systems, especially their role in recovering materials from city dumps. Municipalities should implement new policies regarding dumps that include and give recyclers the opportunity to formalize their activities within municipal systems,” said Ricardo Valencia, IRR Director (third from the left).

IRR is one example of a successful initiative. Since its creation four years ago, IRR has expanded to include recyclers in 17 countries, contributed to new legislation in seven countries, and trained nearly 6,000 people. Presently in its second phase, IRR is working to scale up results and attract new members at national, regional, and global levels.

carolina-zambranoAnother activity during the conference was the official launch of the Climate Change and Cities report in which Fundación Avina’s Carolina Zambrano highlighted “the collaborative process in which 350 people– academics, scientists, decision makers and everyday people among them– make changes to the landscape. This is an example of inter-sectorial and multi-actor cooperation models for the future implementation of the New Urban Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

At the Habitat Village, Avina’s Pedro Carrasco, together with Fundación ALDEA, coordinated “The Edible City: Bioculture and Productive Public Spaces in la Mariscal“. The proposal was to improve quality of life, social cohesion, and appropriation of public spaces in La Mariscal through urban agriculture and creating productive public spaces to promote healthy eating and combat climate change.


Similarly, Avina and the Colectivo Urbano Itinerante (CUI) promoted “Creating Neighborhoods: Returning Public Spaces to Residents”, a participatory project by residents for residents. In a situation where public space has lost its role as a place for social cohesion, it is necessary to the rethink and reestablish free and open spaces as the city’s foundation and human relationships as the basis of urban identity.

Block by Block, Micro-intervention, Module (s) of Citizen Participation” with UN-Habitat was a dialogue among citizens about possible ways to improve the city, their neighborhood, and their street. The project included  conferences, workshops, and meetings among urban development specialists and interested pedestrians to create a space to analyze sustainable development in the city.


“We are sharing Latin American lessons learned about the participatory regeneration of public space with the objective of influencing public policies and replicating these experiences to increase the amount of public space and improve urban quality of life, ” said Luis Miguel Artieda of Fundación Avina.

Click here to watch a video series of interviews and testimonials on our YouTube channel.





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