EAT at Habitat III

Published October 14, 2016

Habitat III is the one-in-twenty-year United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development , taking place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 to 20 October 2016. EAT has been active in the lead-up to this historic event and will be presenting in Quito.

Urbanization is an unprecedented challenge. By the middle of the century two of every three people will likely live in towns and cities. Urbanization and development are inextricably linked and it is necessary to find a way to ensure the sustainability of both. Urbanization has become a driving force of development with the power to change and improve lives.

«The world's population is becoming increasingly urban, and to feed 9 billion people healthy diets within the ecological limits of our planet, we have to get urban development right.» Dr Sudhvir Singh, Policy Director EAT Foundation

EAT’s Policy Director, Dr Sudhvir Singh, reflects; “The world’s population is becoming increasingly urban, and to feed 9 billion people healthy diets within the ecological limits of our planet, we have to get urban development right.”

Habitat III is one of the first global summits since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It offers a unique opportunity to discuss the planning and management of cities, towns, and villages to fulfill their role as drivers of sustainable development, and to shape the implementation of new global development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Habitat III aims to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable urban development, assess accomplishments, address poverty, and identify and tackle new and emerging challenges. Attendees will adopt the New Urban Agenda, a forward-looking and action-oriented policy document to guide urban development worldwide.

The New Urban Agenda encourages densification rather than extending the perimeter of cities, mixed land use instead of zoning, and the preservation of landscapes, natural resources and public spaces for all. The document also reinforces better coordination between local, subnational, national, and international governing bodies and promotes a holistic view of urban planning to ensure cohesion, participation and social inclusion. Thanks to a co-ordinated advocacy effort, references to food – from health, nutrition, environmental and economic perspectives – have increased since the initial draft of the New Urban Agenda.

Dr Singh; “Behaviors associated with living in poorly planned cities – such as sedentary lifestyles and the overconsumption of ultra-processed foods – contribute to obesity and many non-communicable diseases. Too many marginalized urban populations simply lack access to affordable and nutritious foods.”


«Too many marginalized urban populations simply lack access to affordable and nutritious foods.”» Dr Sudhvir Singh, Policy Director EAT Foundation

EAT has been active in ensuring food and health are part of the text of the New Urban Agenda and the broader discussion on sustainable urban development, and Habitat III is a valuable opportunity to share our work on empowering cities to implement holistic food strategies. To this end, we have been involved in preparatory and advocacy work, including providing comments on the draft text of the New Urban Agenda and providing input to government policy stances on Habitat,  and we will be speaking at several side events in Quito.

The United Nations General Assembly convened the Habitat I Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976, as governments began to recognize the need for sustainable human settlements and the consequences of rapid urbanization, especially in the developing world. At that time, the international community barely considered the impacts of urbanization, but the world was starting to witness the greatest and most rapid migration of people into cities and towns in history.

The Vancouver commitments were reconfirmed 20 years later at the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, Turkey. World leaders adopted the Habitat Agenda as a global action plan for adequate shelter for all, with the notion of sustainable human settlements driving development in an urbanizing world.

Forty years since Habitat 1, there is wide consensus that urban structure, form, and functionality need to change. Cities have continued to expand outwards beyond their peri-urban areas, often due to weak planning, poor management, land regulation crises, and real estate speculation factors. It is now understood that slums and informal settlements are a spontaneous form of urbanization, often the product of survival strategies by the urban poor.

Habitat III is an opportunity to crystallize the ideals of Habitat II in designing policies, planning urban spaces for all, and providing affordable urban services by looking to cities as an incredible force for global development. With the New Urban Agenda expanding development considerations to include health, nutrition, food security, environment, and urban-rural linkages, Habitat III has the potential to play an important role in making cities equitable, prosperous, sustainable, just, equal and safe.

Habitat III will shape the global development paradigm, and EAT looks forward to helping ensure that cities take the necessary steps to implement the New Urban Agenda.

See Dr. Joan Clos, Director General for Habitat III, talk about Habitat III below.

Read more on about EAT and cities:
Cities are where the future happens first

Dr Gunhild A Stordalen at Huffington Post: Food and the City:
From nutritional challenge to tasty opportunity