The Habitat Agenda: Local Governments Are Critical in Sustainable Urban Development

Public Management, December 1996 | Go to article overview

The Habitat Agenda: Local Governments Are Critical in Sustainable Urban Development


Democratization, decentralization, and empowerment have been at the core of the Habitat II conference. Commencing with the thoughtful and diligent work of the World Assembly of Cities and Local Authorities, the Habitat Agenda [the final conference document] has embraced the critical role of local government in implementing tangible solutions to solving the vexing challenges posed by rapid urbanization. Section D of the document clearly reflects that the Habitat Agenda depends on increasing decentralization, whereby local governments can work in partnership with private and NGO [nonprofit] sectors to achieve real change at the community level.

- Tim Honey, U.S. delegate to Habitat II and city manager of Boulder, Colorado, in a report to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, head of the U.S. delegation.

After more than two years of international, national, and local preparations and two intense weeks in Istanbul, Turkey, Habitat II, the last UN conference of the century, drew to a close on June 14, 1996. Though the city summit tackled such contentious issues as housing as a human right, a broad global consensus was reached on strategies for achieving the conference's themes of adequate housing for all and sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world* Among the key approaches advocated for reaching these goals were:

* Viewing government as an enabler, rather than the sole or even primary provider, of infrastructure and services. Governments should focus on establishing the legislative, institutional, and financial frameworks and on ensuring a stable and transparent policy and operating environment in which the private sector, NGOs (nonprofits), and community groups can make a greater contribution to sustainable urbanization.

* Diversifying and mobilizing funds from new domestic and international sources through the development of innovative financial mechanisms to meet urban investment requirements.

* Recognizing the importance of autonomous and effective local governance in fostering sustainable urban and environmental development and management.

The emphasis on strong, democratic local authorities as key partners in implementing the Habitat Agenda was perhaps what most markedly distinguished Habitat II from the UN conferences that preceded it. For the first time in the history of the United Nations, local officials were included in national delegations and given a voice and a seat at the negotiating table; the U.S. delegation, for example, included three mayors and a city manager.

At the World Assembly of Cities and Local Authorities (WACLA), held just before Habitat II, more than 500 mayors and other local officials from around the world gathered to discuss their mutual concerns, to share solutions that they have found to urban problems, and to finalize a "WACLA Declaration" intended to serve as a united policy document for local authorities. The declaration, which was presented to the national delegations at Habitat II, advocates a worldwide charter of local self-government. A cornerstone of this charter is the principle of subsidiarity or proximity, whereby decisions are taken at the level closest and most accountable to citizens, and only those tasks that local government cannot effectively carry out are referred to higher levels.

Sections of the declaration capture the pivotal position of the themes of decentralization, democratic local governance, and creative partnerships between public and private actors:

. . . sustainable human development must be conceived and enacted essentially at the local level, which is best able to mobilize concrete initiatives from the bottom up, geared towards a truly better individual and collective quality of life . . . .

To be able to play their role completely in this respect, local authorities must be legally constituted, with adequate powers, must be able fully and without hindrance to undertake the responsibilities which are recognized as their own, and must be able to call upon the necessary financial and human resources and management and training capacity to fulfill their responsibilities. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Habitat Agenda: Local Governments Are Critical in Sustainable Urban Development
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.