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Home > Cities Today > Issue 23 > How civil society can drive implementation of the New Urban Agenda

How civil society can drive implementation of the New Urban Agenda

The role of the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), a new representative body for civil society, in the process leading up to the Habitat III meeting marked a watershed in how national governments can work with stakeholder groups. Richard Forster reveals how the next-generation GAP will not only provide a vital link between government and cities in terms of implementation of urban policy but could also serve as a template for multi-stakeholder cooperation across the entire UN system

While the Habitat III meeting in Quito last October may have put the seal on the New Urban Agenda, the key question now is how to ensure that the broad, some would say rather aspirational, statements in the Agenda are implemented in our cities over the next 20 years.

The GAP Executive Committee met at the United Nations Headquarters at the end of January to delineate its programmes for the next five years. Attendees pictured (L-R): Greg Budworth (Compass Housing, Australia), co-chair Civil Society; Mary Rocco, GAP co-ordinator at Penn IUR; Bert Smolders, (Arcadis, The Netherlands) co-chair, Business and Industry; Peter Goetz (former member German Parliament) co-chair, Parliamentarians; Nicholas You (Citiscope, Kenya), co-chair, Media; Ishtiaque Zahir (IUIA, Bangladesh)co-chair, Professionals; Ali Kahn (European Foundation Center, Belgium) cochair, Foundations; Jane Katz (Habitat for Humanity, USA) co-chair Civil Society; Magadalena Garcia Hernandez (Bufetede Estudios, Mexico) co-chair, Women; Eugenie Birch (University of Pennsylvania, USA) president, GAP; Shipra Narang Suri (ISOCARP, India) vice president, GAP; Hirotake Koike (C&Y Habitat III) co-chair, Children and Youth; Mildred Crawford (Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers, Jamaica), co-chair, Farmers; Sion Jones, HelpAge, UK) co-chair, Older Persons; Violet Shivutse, Shibuye Community Health Workers, Kenya) co-chair, Farmers; Ana Lucy Bengachoa (Plataforma Comunitaria Comité y redes de Honduras Waguch, Honduras) co-chair, Indigenous Peoples, Mohammed Ali Loufty (partially hidden) (American University, USA), co-chair, Persons with Disabilities; Enrique Silva (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, USA), co-chair, Research and Academia; Joyati Das (World Vision International, Australia), co-chair, Children and Youth
Photo: Ilija Gubic

The Agenda itself has come in for some criticism for not being more focused on targets and how we might get to them.

“It doesn’t tell me as a local government official how I should do anything differently,” Debra Roberts, chief resilience officer for the city of Durban told Reuters ahead of Habitat III, emphasising that national governments and urban policymakers need to engage much more with a wider range of actors such as civil society, business and academia.

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