A New Urban Agenda

In Quito, Ecuador I unveiled a new urban agenda at Habitat III — the UN’s Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development.

As our urban areas grow at unprecedented rates, local leaders across the globe are being faced with great opportunities and serious challenges for the quality of life of the world’s population and the environment in which we live. This week in Quito, Ecuador, as head of the Unites States Delegation at the Habitat III conference, I unveiled a plan for sustainable and inclusive urban development in this Century of Cities — a New Urban Agenda.

Since the first Habitat Conference in 1976, the world’s urban population has grown from roughly 38 percent to nearly 55 percent. The agenda I discussed this week will outline three ways we can address this rapid urbanization and help build cities of promise.

View my delivery of the U.S. National Statement to the Habitat III Conference.

First, cities must invest in shared prosperity.

Brainpower is the key to creating a dynamic, agile workforce, and that opportunity has to start early in life. Investments in education, job creation, public infrastructure, and expanded broadband access can help us promote shared prosperity and dismantle entrenched inequalities. Cities also need to invest in affordable housing so that every child — no matter where he or she starts in life — has the chance to move up and achieve their dreams.

The second key to success is to embrace regionalism.

The challenges of tomorrow are too complex for individual communities to try to solve alone. Cities must strengthen their connection to surrounding areas — urban, suburban and rural. By working together and including every community’s voice in our planning decisions, we’re helping to create a future where all can thrive.

Finally, cities must do their part to foster greater openness and freedom.

Free, open societies are those best equipped to foster creativity and entrepreneurship. Our responsibilities start with investments in housing, infrastructure and schools, but we can and should do more. Let’s also ensure that every person can get fair legal representation regardless of how much money they have, let’s promote the advancement of rights for women and girls, and let’s continue the progress we’ve seen around the world in the long march for full equality for LGBT people. Communities that embrace inclusiveness will prosper most in this Century of Cities.

Creating neighborhoods of opportunity that promote prosperity for all people will take all of us working together. I’m proud that the United States was represented by such a diverse, talented, and courageous group of stakeholders at Habitat III.

About the Author: Julian Castro serves as the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Editor's Note: This entry also appeared in the "Quito Comes to You" publication on Medium.com.

For more information:

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro speaking with Congressman Keith Ellison, Mayor Betsy Hodges, and local leaders on a street in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development photo]
Posted by Julian Castro
October 17, 2016

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