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Advocacy focus: Habitat III

Habitat III, the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, will take place in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. The purpose of Habitat III is to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanization as the rate of movement from rural to urban areas continues to rise. Leading up to the conference, the Bureau of the Habitat III Preparatory Committee, the Habitat III Secretariat, and member states have been producing a document called the New Urban Agenda, which will be officially announced in October. Just as Habitat I and Habitat II shaped human settlement policies for subsequent decades, the New Urban Agenda will define urban priorities for the next 20 years.

As one of the first major United Nations meetings after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, Habitat III should work to implement these global goals, especially Goal 11, which focuses on cities and human settlements. Habitat III should result in a measurable, forward-looking, action-oriented document, providing guidance and next steps for cities throughout the world.  For more information, go to

The outcome of Habitat III will influence housing policy around the world for years to come. If Habitat III is to integrate all facets of sustainable development to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity, Habitat for Humanity International believes it must:

  • Emphasize housing. Housing, both in the informal and formal sectors, reduces poverty, generates jobs and economic growth, and is critical to addressing energy consumption and climate change. As the Sustainable Development Goals confirm, the availability of adequate and affordable housing is essential in fostering safe, resilient and sustainable cities. 
  • Prioritize security of tenure and access to land. People shouldn’t live in constant fear of eviction and must have the ability to use and control their land. The foundational nature of secure land rights presents a substantial opportunity for Habitat III:  Strengthen and enforce access to land, land rights and secure tenure to develop both communities and cities in which they reside.   
  • Foster community-led development. Communities know their needs and should be able to define their future. Habitat III must incorporate the priorities of citizens and communities, especially for women, the poor, and vulnerable groups, along with the organizations supporting them. Community organizations should be included in decision-making processes and be formally part of implementing the New Urban Agenda.   
  • Set specific and accountable measures. To end poverty, the world needs more than good ideas. Habitat III must produce an outcome document with specific and measurable commitments that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and account for how cities will grow and evolve over the next two decades.  

On World Habitat Day, we encourage everyone who believes in our mission to sign this petition telling U.N. member states that access to land for shelter must be a top priority in the New Urban Agenda: