Why is Habitat III a story?

The world is urbanizing quickly. Cities are growing rapidly on all continents, and in Asia and Africa at a breakneck pace. It’s increasingly clear that metropolitan areas are engines of growth and prosperity in the global economy.

Done right, urbanization over the coming decades will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, improve quality of life and reduce dangerous carbon emissions. Done wrong, it could worsen inequality, threaten public health and deaden the environment with wasteful sprawl.

The UN’s Habitat III conference, to take place in October of 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, represents a major journalistic opportunity to dive into these issues. The convening represents the one time every 20 years that nations gather to discuss the future of their cities. Further, this year’s summit is shaping up to be the most significant Habitat conference yet — in terms of breadth of participation, interest across the UN system and timeliness of today’s global focus on the evolving role of cities. Whether your beat is climate change, sustainable development, public health or empowering women, the stories you’re covering go through Quito.

Journalists have valuable roles to play in this discussion — to educate and engage the public, to inform decision-makers, and to watchdog the debate. Journalists can look at what’s going wrong in their cities but also at what’s going right, and show our audiences examples from around the world of what “sustainable urbanization” means in practice.

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