Habitat III 'thematic meetings' process now underway

Coming months will see six more thematic meetings and four regional meetings, each of which will offer input to the New Urban Agenda.

As the Habitat III calendar fills up just 13 months before next year’s major cities conference in Quito, Ecuador, a milestone has now been passed, offering crucial input to the strategy that is to come out of that event has taken shape. This week, Tel Aviv hosted the first formal “thematic meeting” on the Habitat III schedule, focused on civic engagement.

Over the next seven months, from now until the April release of the zero draft of the Habitat III strategy — known as the New Urban Agenda — there will be seven thematic meetings as well as four regional meetings. Together, these events will aim to cover the geographic and topical scope of global urbanization. Each will offer input into the drafting of the New Urban Agenda.

[See: Citiscope’s calendar of all Habitat III and related events]

The four regional meetings will cover Latin America and the Caribbean, the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Europe. This last category includes the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, in light of the cultural and political histories that tie them to Europe. Countries in the Middle East, meanwhile, will caucus with the Europe, Africa or Asia-Pacific groups.

While those meetings were defined by the need to have each region contribute its particular housing and urban development issues to the New Urban Agenda, the thematic meetings are more loosely defined. These have depended instead on the initiative of member states, cities and local governments that want to emphasize a particular issue in the world’s forthcoming agenda for cities.

The hosts also have to come up with the funding for each thematic events. Organizers of the thematic meetings are expected to contribute between USD 500,000 and USD 1 million to the Habitat III Trust Fund, the major source of financing for Habitat III activities, for the privilege.

In general, then, these meetings will showcase issues near and dear to the host, or ones for which the host has had particular success. For example, Tel Aviv this week hosted the first thematic meeting, on civic engagement, in light of its efforts to develop digital tools to better communicate with its citizens.

Some thematic meetings will piggyback on larger events, such as the Tel Aviv Cities Summit and the DLD Innovation Festival. Others, like the upcoming Montreal meeting on metropolitan areas, are standalone events focused solely on the Habitat III issue — in this case, at the behest of the Montreal Metropolitan Community.

The seven thematic meetings are slated to occur as follows (subject to change):

7 September 2015: Thematic Meeting on Civic Engagement — Tel Aviv, Israel

6-7 October 2015: Thematic Meeting on Metropolitan Areas — Montreal, Canada

9-11 November 2015: Thematic Meeting on Intermediate Cities — Cuenca, Ecuador

17-19 November 2015: Thematic Meeting on Smart Cities — Barcelona, Spain

18 January 2016: Thematic Meeting on Renewable Energy and Cities — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

1 February 2016: Thematic Meeting on Informal Settlements — Johannesburg, South Africa (Date TBC)

9-11 March 2016: Thematic Meeting on Financing the New Urban Agenda — Mexico City DF, Mexico

Details for the four regional meetings, meanwhile, are currently as follows:

21-22 October 2015: Regional Meeting for Asia-Pacific — Jakarta, Indonesia

31 January 2016: Regional Meeting for Africa — Nigeria (Date, location TBC)

16-18 March 2016: Regional Meeting for Europe — Prague, Czech Republic

11-13 April 2016: Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean — Toluca, Mexico

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