15 Things I Learnt at Habitat III

12 October 2017

Aurecon, in conjunction with NZPI Auckland Emerging Planners recently hosted an event on ‘15 things I learned at Habitat III’, giving emerging planners the opportunity to be debriefed on the latest global trends in urbanism and sustainable development.

The presenters included a multi-disciplinary range of five young urban professionals and students who were selected for the delegation by Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute (AYLI).

ABOVE: Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute delegates at Habitat III. From left to right: Mel Taylor, Natasha Eichler, Piet Ubels, Hannah Shingler, Charlotte Clouston, Luke Christensen, and Bruce Tsai.

What were the 15 things the delegates learnt at Habitat III?

  1. What is the New Urban Agenda?
  2. New Zealand’s urban future?
  3. Adapting New Zealand’s cities to the future of climate change
  4. YOUTH are a priority
  5. We need soft skills
  6. Call to action?
  7. There is a need for “synergy” between airports and urban development
  8. Public-Private Partnerships as a “Triple Win” for sustainable development
  9. Every person has a fundamental basic human “Right to the City”
  10. Housing policy across the world
  11. Local versus central government policies
  12. Transport policy
  13. Are open cities a new way of envisioning urban and transport planning in the 21st century?
  14. Cities as incomplete forms; cities that are porous
  15. What does the New Urban Agenda mean for NZ?

The “15 things” event was attended by approximately 30 emerging planners, ranging from students to senior practitioners. Many thanks to Mikayla Woods from Aurecon who was the MC of the evening, the five presenters, including Mel Taylor, Piet Ubels, Charlotte Clouston, Luke Christensen, and Hannah Shingler, as well as those who also participated in the successful event.

ABOVE: Mel Taylor, Urban & Transport Planner (Aurecon) presenting to emerging planners on the concept of ‘open cities’

What was Habitat III?

Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development was held on 17-20 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. It addressed a broad range of issues affecting cities – from transport, poverty, climate change, technology, to the sustainability of development and the new and emerging challenges that will need to be monitored. The conference focussed on Goal #11 of the Sustainable Development Goals: "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable." About 30,000 people in total attended the conference.

The UN Conferences on Housing (Habitat) are held only once every 20 years (1976, 1996 and 2016). Habitat III was the long-awaited conference that brought together governments, local authorities, civil society, the private sector and academic institutions to look at the future of cities, with the aim of creating a ‘New Urban Agenda’ (NUA). The NUA provides a 20-year “roadmap” to guide sustainable urban development globally.

Why does Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda matter for New Zealand?

There are critical challenges facing cities globally. The presenters highlighted both the similarities and differences of urban problems from around the world. They urged emerging planners to take up opportunities to look to international best practice in their work.

ABOVE: University of Auckland urban planning student Hannah Shingler presenting on the need to prioritise youth in UN engagement

How can other emerging planners attend international conferences?

Rachel Dobric, Executive Director of AYLI gave an introduction to the important work that she does - training and inspiring young kiwi’s by giving them the opportunity to attend the world’s most significant international conferences. Several young planners took the opportunity to catch up with her afterwards to hear about future conference opportunities.

ABOVE: Auckland emerging planners catch up after the presentations

By Mel Taylor, Int.NZPI