In the Abuja declaration, the delegates are seeking development of smart cities with improved urban systems for improved functionality, efficiency and effective delivery of urban basic services and infrastructure; positioning urbanisation and human settlements as a driver of competitiveness through specialization and connected urban systems at the regional level
FRESH impetus was added last week to the drive to articulate Africa’s vision for sustainable urban and human settlements development in the New Urban Agenda, after three days of deliberations and fine-tuning by the delegates at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) Africa Regional Meeting in Abuja.
In the meeting attended by the continent’s National Government officials as well as wide range of stakeholders, including local and regional authorities, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, professionals and academia, private sector, civil society, women, children and youth; the delegates adopted the Abuja Declaration on Habitat III that spelt out Africa’s priorities for the Quito (Ecuador) in October 2016.
Delegates agreed to the text read by Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works & Housing and Chair of the Preparatory Board for the Preparation of the Abuja Declaration, Mr Babatunde Fashola, which stated that the opportunities and challenges of urbanization and human settlements have increased in scope and complexity, and thus the need to harness the full potential of the existing institutional and policy frameworks as transformative instruments for economic growth and poverty reduction.
The continent’s experts also noted the emerging challenge of forced urbanization due to, among others, conflicts, terrorism and natural disasters, which has forced populations to move en masse from rural areas to urban centers and vice versa, and across borders, stretching existing infrastructure resulting in increased insecurity and poverty which need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
They, therefore, recommended as follows: ONE: Harnessing the potential of urbanization to accelerate structural transformation for inclusive and sustainable growth through the allocation of adequate financial resources to promote sustainable urbanization and human settlements development to drive structural transformation for the benefit of all citizens.
Promoting inclusive economic growth that translates to full employment and decent jobs as well as improved living standards for all.
Strengthening and creating systems of well-connected cities and human settlements at the national and regional levels as nodes of growth based on their competitive advantages; integrating urbanization into national development planning as a cross cutting factor driving national growth and transformation.
TWO: Enhancing efforts to advance a global partnership to facilitate the implementation of the new global urban and human settlements agenda by mobilizing financial resources from both state and non-state actors; enhancing multi-stakeholder engagement for the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda for cities and human settlements agenda in Africa, including the private sector as well as capacity building, skills and technology transfer for sustainable urban and human settlements planning and management.
THREE: Enhancing the contribution of urban and human settlements development to continental integration by taking advantage of urban corridors at the regional level for related infrastructural and other initiatives, cross regional interaction and movement of people; orienting regional and interregional infrastructure, facilities and initiatives to promote cross boundary interaction and leverage urban and human settlements assets.
Developing smart cities with improved urban systems for improved functionality, efficiency and effective delivery of urban basic services and infrastructure; positioning urbanization and human settlements as a driver of competitiveness through specialization and connected urban systems at the regional level, namely infrastructure, economy and institutions.
FOUR: Strengthening institutions and systems for promoting transformative change in human settlements including through enhancing capacities for urban planning, governance and management, promoting effective decentralized urban management by empowering cities and local governments, technically and financially, to deliver adequate shelter and sustainable human settlements.
FIVE: Strengthening UN-Habitat to make it politically visible, as the key player in mobilizing all relevant actors, State and non-State in implementing the New Urban Agenda as the outcome of Habitat III as well as the urban and human settlements component of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and reiterate the importance of the Nairobi Headquarters location of UN-Habitat by establishing universal membership at its Governing Council to give it more authority and legitimacy in decision-making.
Originally published in The Guardian