New deadline announced for Habitat III ‘policy units’ recommendations

Stakeholders have until 24 June to propose individuals and organizations for a mechanism that will have a substantial role in drafting the New Urban Agenda.

The United Nations has extended by a week and a half an important cut-off point for deciding on exactly which stakeholders will have a direct hand in drafting the New Urban Agenda, the document that will set global urbanization strategy for the coming two decades.

At issue is the composition of the 10 thematic “policy units” — groups of external experts who will be vested with synthesizing existing data and offering substantive recommendations on the scope and, especially, implementation of the New Urban Agenda. This agenda will be the outcome of next year’s Habitat III conference on cities, a once-every-20-years occurrence.

The policy units “are intended to identify challenges, policy priorities and critical issues as well as the development of action-oriented recommendations for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda,” Juan Clos, the executive director of UN-Habitat, the lead agency for the conference, said in a letter sent to stakeholders on Monday.

The 10 policy units will cover each of the major focus areas that the New Urban Agenda is intended to address. They will also incorporate the work of the 22 ‘issue papers’ filed at the end of last month by technical agencies throughout the U. N. and broader multilateral system.

With each unit consisting of 20 experts — from civil society, academia, government and multilateral institutions — the scope is massive: a body of 200 people who will work through the end of the year to come up what will essentially be the first draft of the New Urban Agenda.

The previously highlighted deadline passed on Monday, 15 June, the date by which member states had been asked to formally forward recommendations for these experts to the Habitat III Secretariat. By many accounts, however, that deadline had caught prominent stakeholders by surprise.

In his letter this week, Clos said that recommendations for experts would now be accepted by the secretariat until 24 June. The experts should be put forward “with a view to facilitating the elaboration of policy recommendations” for the New Urban Agenda, Clos said. He also called for proposals for “co-leading organizations” for each policy unit.

Final decisions on selection of the experts will be made by Clos and the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee for Habitat III, a body of representative governments that is shepherding the Habitat III process.

Full criteria for these decisions are available here. The terms of reference for the experts and co-leading organizations are also available. All recommendations and related queries should be sent to the secretariat at habitat3secretariat@un.org.

Stakeholders will also be able to send comments to that e-mail address on any aspect of the policy units starting 1 July and running through the month. Member states are supposed to file similar comments by 30 June.

The 10 policy units will be organized around the following issues:

1.     Right to the City, and Cities for All

2.     Socio-cultural urban framework

3.     National urban policies

4.     Urban governance, capacity and institutional development

5.     Municipal finance and local fiscal systems

6.     Urban spatial strategy: Land market and segregation

7.     Urban economic development strategy

8.     Urban ecology and resilience

9.     Urban services and technology

10.     Housing policies

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