Habitat III

By Ioana Popp  

Urbanization is a growing trend, with the world’s urban population projected to rise from 54% now to 66% by 2050 (UNDESA 2014). As a consequence of this urban expansion, urban land area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030 - an enormous challenge and opportunity from the perspective of crisis response, climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster risk management (DRM) and development.

Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to be held in Quito, Ecuador, from 17- 20 October 2016 seeks to:

  • assess accomplishments to date
  • identify new and emerging challenges
  • secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development.

The conference will result in a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented outcome document.

Habitat III will be one of the first United Nations global summits after the adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Urbanization is one of the key issues outlined in the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals, notably with goal 11 seeking to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” as well as in a myriad of targets. Most importantly, cities will be key players in the implementation of this ambitious agenda and making sure to leave no one behind.

Habitat III will take place after what will hopefully be a new climate change agreement, the UNFCCC in Paris, in December. It will also follow discussions at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, in May 2016. These processes are key frameworks of sustainable development and a reformed approach to crisis-response and mitigation, and migration is a common element of all.

This means an opportunity to promote a new model of urban development that is able to integrate all facets of sustainable development and transition to development, to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) advocates for the New Urban Agenda to recognize the importance of (1) migration as a phenomenon, key driver of cities’ growth, as well as (2) migrants as individuals with specific needs, who become agents of development when the right policies protecting their rights are in place.

A Public Call - Urban Dialogues

The Habitat III Urban Dialogues concluded on 31 July after three weeks of consultations and the aim of this participatory exercise was to add essential and comprehensive inputs on topics relevant to the six urban thematic areas below.

Migration is present in all 6 urban dialogues and migrants included as “major groups” on a par with the UN groups – youth, women.

Focused Expertise – Thematic meetings

The thematic meetings which are based on specific and relevant topics will issue thematic ‘Declarations’.


The first HABITAT III thematic meeting focused on “Civic Engagement and Public Participation” and took place in Tel Aviv, 7-8 September. IOM provided migration policy highlights through the online discussions to inform the discussions, based on expertise provided by LHD, RTS and Media colleagues. The outcome document of the thematic meeting will be officially released on September 20th 2015 as the Tel Aviv Declaration on Civic Engagement and will contribute to the work of the relevant policy units.

Building consensus – Regional meetings

The Habitat III preparatory process includes a regional track in order to capture the regional dimension into the formulation of a new urban agenda. Official substantive inputs to the process will come through the Habitat III Regional Reports that will be prepared with support from the Regional Commissions, building on the Habitat III National Reports.