Press Release04.10.2016, Berlin

Make urbanization an issue of international politics

Habitat III's success should be measured by whether we succeed in putting urbanization at the top of the agenda of world politics – says the WBGU in its statement on the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III, 17–20 Oct. 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.

In this statement, the WBGU stresses the urgent need for a global discussion on the impending surge of urbanization – which will be unique in terms of impact, scale and speed – and the associated need for action. According to the WBGU, it will be impossible to implement the Agenda 2030's global sustainability goals or the Paris Climate Agreement unless cities develop accordingly. Climate-neutral and resource-efficient cities must be built for approx. 2.5 billion additional city dwellers by the middle of the century. If we build future cities in the same way as we have in the past, we will not be able to comply with the planetary limits, and non-sustainable path dependencies will be cemented. The scientific advisory body to the German federal government therefore calls for a fundamental paradigm shift in urban development. We should completely rethink the way cities are built, planned and structured worldwide,, and how supply and mobility systems are developed. This requires above all the following:

  • hold Habitat conferences every four years, not just every twenty,
  • reform and strengthen the UN Habitat programme,
  • create a panel for the scientific monitoring of international policy in the form of assessment reports,
  • make the issue a permanent item on the G20 agenda,
  • strengthen the role of city networks in international politics,
  • and give urbanization and urban development a higher profile in development and international cooperation, as well as in research.

The WBGU concludes its statement by saying that the German federal government should in this way vigorously promote a fundamental paradigm shift in urban development policy in Quito.