In light of ongoing consultations on the post-2015 development agenda and preparations for the upcoming Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in 2016, UN-Habitat introduced a new agenda item on the role of urbanization in sustainable development. In so doing, it invited the Committee to consider developing a framework for system-wide coordination and coherence on the subject. The Chair welcomed the consideration of this topic and observed that Habitat III would be the first United Nations international conference to be held following the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, presenting an opportunity for the Committee to consider a system-wide approach to sustainable urban development. He stressed that it was important for the Committee to understand what coordination efforts were already underway in the area and to set clear expectations for the proposed Working Group on a New United Nations Urban Agenda.
In the ensuing discussion, the Committee expressed strong support for the proposal by UN-Habitat. Many members signaled their interest in contributing to the Working Group while highlighting current activities related to sustainable urbanization. It was observed that the proposal provided a good opportunity to take stock of existing programmatic and policy interventions within the system. Given the vulnerabilities of cities to disaster, it was suggested that UNISDR might also be invited to participate in the Working Group. Several members urged more thought to be given to the respective roles of the existing interagency coordinating committee and the proposed HLCP Working Group. The possibility of merging the two was raised. On this point, Ms. Yamina Djacta, UN-Habitat New York Liaison Office, clarified that the interagency coordinating committee responded to Member State requests to mobilize expertise throughout the whole of the United Nations system in support of Habitat III; whereas the proposed HLCP Working Group would focus on policy coherence. Nevertheless, the complementarity of the two could be further considered.
Several members supported re-considering the timing of the consideration of the policy recommendations by the CEB and the subsequent submission to the Habitat III Preparatory Committee in view of the timeline for adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, which would necessarily inform both the UN system input to the Preparatory Committee, as well as Member State negotiations on the Habitat III outcome.
HLCP welcomed UN-Habitat’s proposal and decided to establish an ad hoc time-bound HLCP Working Group on a New United Nations Urban Agenda to present a policy paper on “Urbanization and Sustainable Development: Towards a New United Nations Urban Agenda” at CEB’s second regular session of 2015, with a first draft to be delivered at the CEB’s second regular session of 2014.