April 4, 2017

The Moment to Get Cities Right: Inside Habitat III, the Urbanization Summit of a Generation

past event


The Moment to Get Cities Right: Inside Habitat III, the Urbanization Summit of a Generation

On April 4th, Penn IUR, Perry World House, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and Next City co-hosted an event to celebrate the launch of the documentary, “The Moment to Get Cities Right: Inside Habitat III, the Urbanization Summit of a Generation,” which was shot over the course of the four-day Habitat III conference in Quito. The event, moderated by Next City President, CEO & Publisher Tom Dallessio, featured a diverse set of panelists from across sectors: Ian Klaus, Perry World House Visiting Fellow, Former Senior Advisor for Global Cities, U.S. Department of State; Sarah Wu, Deputy Director, Office of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia; and Faculty Fellow Mark Alan Hughes, Director, Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.

Dallesio opened the event by welcoming the audience and providing background on the Habitat III conference. Ariella Cohen, Editor-in-Chief at Next City, introduced the mini-documentary, co-produced by the Lincoln Institute and Next City, as a window into the influential moment when the New Urban Agenda was adopted. Shot over the course of the 4-day conference in Quito with videography by Meerkat Media, the film features many voices commenting on the issues the New Urban Agenda addresses, the process of adopting the New Urban Agenda, and the way forward for implementation.

Following the film, Dallessio asked the panelists to reflect on the documentary and their experiences addressing the challenges of increasing urbanization.  Klaus began by remarking what an incredible feat it was for all member states to agree to one document. In his former role as Deputy Negotiator for Habitat III at the State Department, he witnessed three main challenges to reaching agreement: differing theoretical approaches to urbanization strategies, the organizational challenge of integrating policies vertically across governing levels, and the question of who would implement and measure progress on the New Urban Agenda.

Hughes brought an academic perspective to the discussion, offering examples of projects that are underway at Penn and in Philadelphia to advance the goals of the New Urban Agenda. The Pathways Project is one such project that aims to better understand decision making around local and regional policies. As part of the process they are building scenarios models of four different policy strategies under discussion in Philadelphia to estimate local net benefits associated with each strategy over time.

Wu offered insight into the local government planning and implementation process of advancing goals in line with the New Urban Agenda. Through the implementation of the first phase of Philadelphia’s sustainability plan, Greenworks, and the development of Phase II, Wu argued they learned three important lessons for achieving success, but the most important is that talking to people on the ground is vital for helping the public understand how they fit into the sustainability practices of the city. Additionally, while some plan metrics are hard to measure, they should still be recognized as important strategies to prioritize. Finally, planning for equitable outcomes, in addition to equitable opportunities, is a vital plan element that must be integrated into implementation efforts.

Dallesio launched the panel into a wide-ranging conversation on first steps toward concrete New Urban Agenda implementation in Philadelphia, how city mayors interacted with the State Department during the New Urban Agenda development process, and what the U.S. as a whole needs to do to advance the goals set out by UN-Habitat. Audience members also chimed in with questions on the participation of marginalized group in goal development, how a final document was agreed upon given differing cultural norms across member states, and how to prioritize a starting point for implementation. 


Watch the Video: The Moment to Get Cities Right, Inside Habitat lll, The Urbanization Summit of a Generation

Watch the Video: The World Stage at Habitat III in Quito


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