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Urban Poverty Research Workshop Recap

On March 15th, in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Urban Sustainability Lab, USAID, the World Bank and Cities Alliance, hosted the concluding workshop of the 2015 Urban Poverty Essay Competition. Three students traveled to Washington, to present their research related to the poor living in cities in the developing world, and were joined by three expert commentators.

The grand prize winner, Stephanie Butcher, presented her work on a partnership between the water utility and private citizens to support small scale water provision and access for slum communities in Kisumu, Kenya. The paper focused on the success of delegating responsibility to residents, allowing greater flexibility for pricing, payment and location of water sources.

Ei-Lyn Chia presented her work on the use of community development associations and other social housing mechanisms to encourage development in the degraded urban center of Sao Paulo Brazil.

Jason Scott presented his work on the effect of digital technologies on activism and social inclusion within the Complexo, a favela outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

All three panelists highlighted specific interventions that aim to create a more equitable and inclusive urban fabric. Common themes throughout the workshop were the importance of community inclusion, finding the correct incentives that encourage successful public and private partnerships, and ensuring that an intervention addresses actual need rather than simply shifting it. Representatives from USAID, the InterAmerican Development Bank and the World Bank provided expert commentary on the papers, and IHC CEO Judith Hermanson provided concluding remarks.

The webcast of the event is available here. In the meantime, read the papers from the three winners, in addition to other finalists in the published book here.

Special Bulletin on Habitat III

March 16, 2016
Habitat III Timeline of Events
March 16th 
The City We Need
Final proposal submitted for approval
March 16th -18th
Regional meeting: Europe
Prague, Czech Republic
March 19th
General Assembly of Partners Meeting
Prague, Czech Republic
April 4th-5th
Thematic meeting: Public space
Barcelona, Spain
April 7-8th 
Thematic meeting: Informal settlements
Pretoria, South Africa
April 18th-20th
Regional meeting: LAC
Toluca, Mexico
April 25th-29th
Open-ended Informal Consultative Meetings
New York
Early May
New Urban Agenda ‘Zero draft’ document due
May 16th - 117th 
Local Authorities Informal Hearings
New York
June 6th - 7th 
Civil Society Informal Hearings
New York
July 11th - 20th
SDG High-Level Political Forum, first review of implementation of SDGs
New York
July (TBD)
General Assembly of Partners meeting
July 25th - 27th 
Third meeting of the Habitat III Preparatory Committee
Surabaya, Indonesia
October (TBD)
General Assembly of Partners meeting
Quito, Ecuador
October 17th - 20th
Habitat III conference

It has been a busy spring, as preparations continue for the upcoming Habitat III conference taking place in Quito, Ecuador in October of this year. The planning and engagement of such a significant conference is immense, and has been made significantly more complex by the tremendous and positive efforts to enable civil society and non-state actors to have a meaningful say in the process.

This Special IHC Update reports on the road map to Quito as well as the current status of several parallel processes feeding into the planning and outcomes of Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda.
Policies, Products and Other Input into Habitat III Preparations:
Habitat III Regional Meeting for Europe and North America
This week, national government representatives and many civil society organizations are meeting in Prague for a Habitat III regional meeting for Europe and North America. In addition to the official member state meetings and negotiations, many civil society organizations will be holding side events focusing on topics such as urban planning, resiliency, local governance, and the role of new research and learning.
Several key documents will be released this week as part of the meetings.
  1. The City We Need 2.0. This document sets out a vision of the city of the future and has been drafted by a sub-committee of the World Urban Campaign, including IHC. It incorporates a year’s worth of “Urban Thinker’s Campuses,” events hosted by WUC members focusing on a variety of topics related to cities and urbanization, each of which made recommendations to WUC. The TCWN 2.0 paper distills the lessons learned from all 26 UTCs and has crafted recommendations for a “new urban paradigm for the 21st century.” It consists of 10 principles of a successful and thriving city, as well as 10 drivers of change that will affect the success of the 10 principles. The document recognizes the central role that adequate housing, land rights and equitable delivery of services play in ensuring the creation of inclusive and sustainable cities, among other elements. The steering committee of the World Urban Campaign is meeting today March 16th in Prague where it is likely to officially adopt the TCWN2.0 document. If it is adopted as expected, TCWN 2.0 will represent the formal input from the World Urban Campaign into the General Assembly of Partners and the New Urban Agenda, which will be an outcome of Habitat III. Read the draft document here.
  1. General Assembly of Partners: Partnerships for the New Urban Agenda. The GAP, a temporary working group of the World Urban Campaign, was created with the hope that a unified civil society voice going into Habitat III would help amplify its voice in a conference that is ultimately in the hands of national governments. The GAP will be debuting this week its framework of recommendations focusing on “the day after” Habitat III and how any agreements or global targets might be operationalized and implemented. The document recommends the creation of four new bodies:  (1) an Intergovernmental Panel on Sustainable Urbanization, (2) a United Nations Advisory Committee on Sustainable Urbanization, (3) a Partners Lab for Urban Sustainability and (4) a Partners’ Dashboard for Sustainable Urbanization. The first two bodies would be focused on UN institutions and ensuring continued global leadership on cities. The latter two would harness the implementing power of donors, the private sector and civil society, and attempt to create more robust and meaningful partnerships and learning across sectors. Read more about the Gap document here.
UN Habitat Policy Unit Papers
Parallel to the efforts of the GAP and the World Urban Campaign, the official UN Policy Units formed of 200 experts from around the world have released comprehensive policy papers on 10 related topic areas. These papers have been through extensive review and revision, and are expected to form the basis of the official outcome document of Habitat III, the New Urban Agenda.
IHC was particularly interested in the Policy Paper focused on housing. The 60+ page document is dense and well-reasoned, setting forth many principles of inclusive growth, adequate housing, and slum improvement that IHC has long advocated for. We were particularly interested to see a major focus on an integrated housing framework. The paper underscores that housing does not exist in a vacuum and that any housing plans must be integrated into new and existing plans for transportation, livelihoods, basic services and infrastructure.   This has been a key point in IHC’s advocacy, so we are glad that this policy paper holds a similar view.
The policy unit papers are ambitious, and the housing paper ends with concrete recommendations for monitoring and evaluation of success at a municipal and national level. As with the Sustainable Development Goals, the challenge after Habitat III and the expected adoption of a New Urban Agenda will be to both build capacity and hold nations and cities accountable for achieving the goals. Read the housing policy paper here. Find the other nine papers here.

IHC Participates in Workshop on Integrating Humanitarian Assistance

IHC recently participated in a workshop hosted by the Shelter Working Group at InterAction. The goal of the half day event was to discuss the potential of integrated programing in humanitarian response.

Global humanitarian response is often divided into organized clusters, so that after a disaster those working to provide one type of service can coordinate and deploy more efficiently.  However, support is growing for the idea of taking a spatial or “neighborhood” approach that views the needs of one group or neighborhood as a whole, encouraging joint planning and design across clusters. The workshop explored this approach, asking participants to discuss the challenges and opportunities it presents, as well as next steps to encourage greater integration.

Chuck Stechel, Senior Shelter Settlements and Hazard Mitigation Advisor at USAID’s Office of Disaster Assistance (OFDA), opened the session with a presentation of OFDA’s “Settlements” approach to shelter assistance, and then asked participants to discuss and share their experiences with integrating sectors.

There was agreement throughout the group on that while technical expertise is vital, a broader vision and the skills to manage the scope of a neighborhood approach are often lacking in both proposal and implementing teams.

Especially in urban settings, participants noted that it is no longer enough to simply provide shelter, if there is no capacity to upgrade, legal basis to build, or national interest in continuing support once emergency response efforts cease.

More than anything, a shift in culture, both by donors and practitioners is necessary, including shifting how success is evaluated. Shelter does not exist in a vacuum, and ensuring that programs transition from emergency response to long-term development is equally important as the initial program itself.

The workshop was well attended by humanitarian implementing organizations, technical advisors and several representatives from OFDA. It provided the Working Group and OFDA with a basis of opinion as both entities work to shape understanding of spatial approaches and improve global practice.

IHC was glad to hear urbanization and cities being recognized as unique settings with unique challenges to the humanitarian community. IHC has long advocated for multi-sector integrated program design in both humanitarian and development assistance, and is glad to see these issues being discussed broadly. The Working Group will be sharing outcomes and next steps from the workshop in the coming weeks.

Senior Technical Advisors Join IHC Team

IHC is delighted to announce the appointment of two distinguished urban experts to its council of Senior Technical Advisors:  Roger Williams and Thomas Kingsley.  They both bring to IHC impressive US and international expertise.  IHC’s Senior Technical Advisors serve IHC through their deep subject matter expertise and experience addressing challenges of equitable urban development.  They assist IHC as it seeks to advance and share practical policies for greater inclusion, equity and prosperity within cities.  

Roger Williams is the founder of Rogelio Williams & Associates, a domestic and international consulting firm specializing in advising on a wide range of issues affecting urban areas, including financial and other strategies for comprehensive community development and robust citizen engagment.  Previously, he was a Senior Fellow/Director for Neighborhood Development at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Vice President at both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Senior Vice President at First Union Bank and the Dime Savings Bank of NY. Mr Williams served on the IHC Board of Directors from 2007 to 2014.
Thomas Kingsley is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute where previously he served for 11 years as director of the Center for Public Finance and Housing.  He previously served as director of the Rand Corporation’s Housing and Urban Policy Program, Assistant Administrator of the New York City Housing and Development Administration and founder and director. of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, which among other things enables understanding of inequality.
IHC is proud to welcome them and is grateful for their service.


ICMA Guest Blog on South Africa-Florida Climate Partnership

How Local Governments are transcending their Borders to Fight Climate Change:  The story of Durban and Southeast Florida

Guest Post by Jessica Johnston
Senior Program Manager,  International City/County Management Association (ICMA)

The Durban  ̶  Southeast ­Florida Climate Change Partnership began in 2013 when CityLinks, a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), connected Broward County and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with Durban, South Africa, to address common climate change challenges including sea level rise, flooding, and storm water management, as well as community and municipal engagement.

Durban, a leader in eco-system based adaptation, was introduced to ICMA through the Durban Adaptation Charter (DAC). The DAC was launched at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 17 held in the City of Durban (eThekwini Municipality), South Africa in December 2011. The DAC commits signatories to ten principles that will assist their communities to respond to and cope with climate change risks thereby reducing vulnerability. Since then, the DAC has grown to over 1,100 local government signatories around the world, the majority of which represent communities in the global south.

Although Durban was successfully addressing many climate challenges in their own back yard, they recognized that climate impacts do not pay attention to political boundaries. Finding an innovative way to work with surrounding municipalities on shared climate challenges was critical to creating sustainable and effective adaptation strategies.

Knowing that Durban was interested in looking at innovative governance models around climate change, ICMA reached out to its members in Southeast Florida that were involved in the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact. The Compact was formed in 2009 when Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties joined forces to work cohesively on climate change. The Compact calls for the counties involved to work cooperatively to advocate for state and federal policies and funding, dedicate staff time and resources to create a Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan, and meet each year to measure progress and identify concerning issues.

Over the course of the partnership CityLinks facilitated exchange visits between Southeast Florida and Durban to see if and how the compact model might work in South Africa. During a trip to Southeast Florida, municipal staff from Durban took an in-depth look at the technical and policy solutions Fort Lauderdale and Broward County are implementing to address climate change. The delegation also met with key community members to better understand the level of citizen engagement the Compact required. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the Compact, the delegation toured Southeast Florida to see how they are preparing for climate change through storm water management solutions, ecosystem restoration, coastline management, and public/private sector engagement.

As a result of the partnership Fort Lauderdale and Broward County became the first U.S. signatories to the DAC in November 2013. In true partnership fashion, the team in Durban took the compact model back home. The Central KwaZulu-Natal Climate Change Compact, now in its second year of operation, has brought together the municipalities around Durban in a consortium that allows for them to work collectively toward regional climate resilience.

To learn more about ICMA’s work in Durban and the CityLinks program, visit the CityLinks website and the Notes from CityLinks blog, follow us on Twitter at @ICMACityLinks, like us on Facebook, and join the climate change discussion in the Climate Preparedness, Adaptation, and Resilience group on the Knowledge Network. Visit ICMA International’s site for additional information on ICMA’s other global projects.

Judith Hermanson Comments on Informal Settlements and Inequality for CitiScope

IHC CEO Judith Hermanson authored a commentary that was featured in Citiscope this week. The article focuses on the challenge and potential of informal settlements as drivers for more equitable urban development. As part of Citiscope’s “Toward Habitat III” series, it discusses the opportunity that the global community now has in this regard. With 860 million people worldwide living in slums and informal settlements, she suggests a new “urban lens” and a comprehensive approach drawing together the strengths of civil society, the private sector and governments.
She argues that with the advent of Global Goal 11 focused on the resilience, safety sustainability and inclusiveness of cities, the new global urban strategy that will result from Habitat III should reflect a practical policy-led programmatic path to achieve those results at a city level, supported by national governments and the global community.
The article ends recommends some tangible steps and ends, reiterating that there is a tremendous opportunity for the New Urban Agenda to focus on fundamental social and economic transformation, simply by intentionally weaving the human and social capital of the slums into the fabric of the city.
Read the article here.

New IHC Contact Details

The IHC is updating our communications hardware and part of that update unfortunately includes a change of phone number. New office contact information can always be found on the bottom of this page, but in the future the office may be reached at 202-239-4401. IHC staff emails will remain the same. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

New Opportunities for the Urban Poor and for Cities Worldwide!

IHC is very excited by the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the underlying agenda to eliminate poverty.  We see SDG 11 to foster inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities as fundamental to their achievement and will be actively supporting it.

As the expected passage of the new Sustainable Development Goals nears, IHC joins with many organizations, nonprofits and civil society around the world gearing up to support the ambitious new global targets for sustainability and development.

SDG 11 is comprehensive and reflects the complex dimensions of cities. It also represents a sea change in global understanding of the importance of urbanization and guiding the growth of cities in an inclusive and responsible manner. The IHC has long advocated that greater attention be given to cities and particularly the needs of the urban poor, and this goal presents a new opportunity to focus these efforts.

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