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Habitat III

  • Mathare informal settlement in Nairobi Kenya  UN HABITATMathare informal settlement, Nairobi - Kenya. Photo ©UN-Habitat

    For Africa’s rapidly growing cities to be strategically guided for longer term sustainability, sound and comprehensive land policies that facilitate good land governance, enhance gender equality, promote decentralized land management and grassroots participation in addition to ensuring urban equity, efficiency and sustainability need to be put in place. It is within this context that the Land and GLTN Unit of UN-Habitat and LPI/AU will be hosting an Expert Group Meeting at the Habitat III Africa Regional Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria  on the 23rd February 2016 with the overall objective of strengthening key messaging on Africa’s land agenda within the context of sustainable urbanization. The Habitat III Africa Regional Meeting, will be an opportunity for regional stakeholders to meet, discuss, and identify priorities for sustainable urban development in the coming decades. As with all Habitat III Thematic and Regional Meetings, the declaration resulting from the meeting will be included as an official input and contribution to the Habitat III preparatory process.

    This is through joint action (Land and GLTN Unit of UN-Habitat and LPI/AU) for advocacy for a stronger position on the role of land in the process of sustainable urban development in Africa by articulating, discussing and recommending the direction of development response to sustainable urbanization through the land lens.

    The overall objective of EGM is to strengthen key messaging around Africa’s land agenda within the context of sustainable urbanization. The identification critical issues and priority action areas for advancing Africa’s land agenda within the context of sustainable urbanization; strategies and pathways for strengthening messaging and advocacy on role of land in the process of sustainable urban development in Africa; development of action oriented recommendations for strengthening the land dimension in the new urban agenda are the identified specific objectives of this EGM. 

    During the EGM, about 20 renowned thinkers and leaders in Africa’s urban land management issues will come together with other key land stakeholders representing various institutions and organizations partnering with the Land and GLTN Unit of UN-Habitat and the LPI/AU. In selecting the participants, the criteria of geographical balance will be taken into consideration including involving African Ministries of Urban Development to champion the agenda on land. 

    For more information on the EGM, you can download the Concept Note here. 


  • Land and Habitat 3

    Strategic issues, challenges and opportunities around land in the New Urban Agenda

    Land is central to the realization of the new urban agenda. Transparent, inclusive, participatory spatial planning and creating tenure security for all segments of society are pre-requisites for almost all if not all issues of the New Urban Agenda.

    Go to: Habitat III Registration and Information for Participants and National Delegations


    Related Documents
    1. GLTN - Roadmap to Quito
    2. Strategic Paper on Land: Advocacy material for GLTN partners and Secretariat in the events leading to Habitat III in October 2016 : Short Version
    3. Strategic Paper on Land: Advocacy material for GLTN partners and Secretariat in the events leading to Habitat III in October 2016 : Full Report
    4. Land in the New Urban Agenda - A Briefing note for Policy-Makers (AR|EN )
    5. Land in the New Urban Agenda - Brief ( AR|EN |FR|SP | PT  )
    6. Land and the New Urban Agenda : A UN-HABITAT wide briefing on 9 June 2016, 
    7. Land and the New Urban Agenda - Presentation

    Areas and issues of the New Urban Agenda and relevant land issues:

    Area Issues Relevant land issue
    Social Cohesion and Equity – Liveable Cities
    1. Inclusive cities
    2. Migration and refugees in urban areas
    3. Safer cities
    4. Urban culture and heritage
    1. Transparent, inclusive, participatory and sustainable urban and territorial spatial planning;
    2. Security of tenure for all segments of society, incl. women and youth;
    Urban Frameworks
    1. Urban rules and legislation
    2. Urban governance
    3. Municipal finance
    1. Urban land policy, legislation on land tenure, administration and management, urban spatial planning law;
    2. Responsible governance of tenure;
    3. Pro-poor land taxation;
    4. Land value sharing;
    Spatial Development
    1. Urban and spatial planning and design
    2. Urban land
    3. Urban-rural linkages
    4. Public space
    1. Urban land policy, legislation on land tenure, administration and management, urban spatial planning law;
    2. Responsible land governance;
    3. Transparent, inclusive, participatory and sustainable urban and territorial spatial planning;
    4. Security of tenure for all segments of society, incl. women and youth;
    5. Fair, reliable gender-responsive, accessible way of resolving disputes over tenure rights etc.
    6. Prohibition of forced evictions
    7. FPIC in case of resettlement
    8. Pro-poor land taxation;
    Urban Economy
    1. Local economic development
    2. Jobs and livelihoods
    3. Informal sector
    1. Transparent, inclusive, participatory and sustainable urban and territorial spatial planning;
    2. Security of tenure for all segments of society, incl. women and youth
    Urban Ecology and Environment
    1. Urban resilience
    2. Urban ecosystems and resource management
    1. Cities and climate change and disaster risk management
    2. Transparent, inclusive, participatory and sustainable urban and territorial spatial planning;
    3. Security of tenure for all segments of society, incl. women and youth
    Urban Housing and Basic Services
    1. Urban infrastructure and basic services, incl. energy
    2. Transport and mobility
    3. Housing
    4. Smart cities
    5. Informal settlements
    1. Transparent, inclusive, participatory and sustainable urban and territorial spatial planning;
    2. Security of tenure for all segments of society, incl. women and youth
    3. Prohibition of forced evictions
    4. FPIC in case of resettlement
    5. Pro-poor land taxation;

    Challenges cities are currently facing that affect land issues

    Challenges cities are facing as identified by UN-Habitat Relevant land related challenges
    Large scale urban poverty in many countries
    1. Lack of tenure security and risk of becoming evicted discouraging slum dwellers to invest in their shelter.
    2. Lack of tenure security, including lacking access to land titles, even for middle income population who could other use the title to access credit.
    3. Absence of pro-poor land based taxation through which local/municipal revenues could be collected.
    The steady increase in the number of slum dwellers
    1. Lack of planned low and middle income residential areas.
    2. Lack of future oriented spatial planning responding to real social, economic and environmental needs.
    3. Lack of community participation in spatial planning.
    The emergence of new forms of poverty vulnerability and marginalization ---
    Rising inequalities in urban areas across the world
    1. Lack of integrated citywide spatial planning aiming to ensure that the wealth generated in a city is redistributed to all segments of society.
    2. Discriminated access to land and control over land for women and child-headed households as well as for certain ethnic or religious or other groups.
    3. Underrepresentation of women and youth as well as of certain ethnic or religious or other groups in spatial planning.
    Decreasing levels of human security and inequitable health gaps in cities Inadequate or absent integrated citywide spatial planning considering environmental risks, environmental impacts and emissions as well as health issues.
    The speculative nature of housing and related markets Lack of innovative tenure arrangements that provide tenure security while preventing market evictions.
    Women face discrimination in the context of urbanization, poverty and violence See above (rising inequalities)
    High costs to the natural environment See above (decreasing levels of human security and inequitable health gaps in cities)
    The urban risk of climate change and natural hazards See above (decreasing levels of human security and inequitable health gaps in cities)
    Cities are becoming the terrain for violent conflict and crises  
    Cities are generating unprecedented levels of multi-layered crime and violence Illegal land/shack lords, land mafia and drug criminals “governing” informal settlements making it difficult to formalize such settlements, which would include the provision of tenure security and the inclusion of its inhabitants in urban spatial planning processes.

    The Habitat Agenda (HABITAT II, 1996)

    The Habitat Agenda already deals with the two core issues around land: equal ad equitable access to land as well as sustainable land use. Access to land is dealt with in para 75-79 under adequate shelter for all. Consequently, access to land and legal security of tenure are understood as strategic prerequisites for the provision of adequate shelter and for the development of sustainable human settlements affecting both urban and rural areas (Habitat Agenda, para 75).  


    Land and the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III, 2016)

    Consequently, the way land is treated in the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III) should not fall behind the commitments related to land made by the Habitat Agenda (Habitat II), but build on it. The New Urban Agenda should reaffirm most of its commitment concerning land, update others and add new aspects. It needs to be clearly spelled out that access to land is not just a fundamental issue of housing but a key driver to achieving all aspects of the new urban agenda.


    Involvement of UN-Habitat and GLTN in Preparation for Habitat III

    UN-Habitat, and GLTN in particular has been engaged in the following areas for action in preparation for Habitat III:

    1. UN Task Team which prepared the 22 issue papers on Habitat III, including the one on urban land
    2. Policy Units, which is gathering of experts who prepared forward-looking policy papers on Habitat III (GLTN has recommended members of the network / land experts to these policy units including FIG, Huairou Commission, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)
    3. Involvement in regional and thematic meetings in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America/Caribbean
    4. Preparation of a strategic paper on land and the new urban agenda
    5. Negotiations with member-states and different stakeholders on the articulation of land in the input policy papers
    6. Creating awareness among stakeholders, particularly from civil society and grassroots organizations


    Progress Made in Some Regions (Africa, Europe and Asia-Pacific)

    Many initiatives are being promoting at both regional and continental levels to harness the land dimension through the urban lens, e.g. in Africa, the Special Technical Committee (STC) under the auspice of the African Union, has stressed out the relevance of land for attaining well planned and prosperous cities. Recently the Asia Pacific urban Forum (APUF 6) held in Jakarta in October 2015, urged Government at all levels to implement fit-for-purpose programmes that improve land governance, including recording and recognizing people-to-land relationships in all its forms. During the last years, EU Member States committed themselves to conduct integrated urban development in their countries and to establish the necessary framework at national level. A core principle is resource efficiency. Economic progress needs to be steadily decoupled from the consumption of resources (green growth). There will be advocacy groups also lobbying for the inclusion of land in the Latin America regional meeting in Mexico.


    Core Messages for Advocacy

    1. Land is at the centre of sustainable urbanization.
    2. Land is central to sustainable urban development as most measures will only be possible to be realized if sufficient land at the right location is available to do so.
    3. Secure tenure for all is foundational to the new urban agenda, ensuring that no one should be left behind in regard to land rights and benefiting from the gains of urbanization
    4. A wide range of tenure options need to be encouraged to meet the diverse and changing needs of different social groups (e.g. the young, the poor, the IDPs, people with disabilities and the elderly)
    5. As land is a finite resource it needs to be used efficiently balancing social and economic goals while protecting the environment.
    6. Do not compromise with land if environmental sustainability is at risk
    7. No socio-economic development without spatial inclusion
    8. Harnessing the transformative power of land based-financing and ensuring the equitable sharing of land market profits for the benefit of all city dwellers
    9. Fighting corruption in land transfer and development is key to sustainable urban development
    10. Land markets need to be enabled and regulated in the public interest.

    Member-states as well as other key stakeholders need to become more risk aware instead of risk averse in regard to land issues and urbanization


  • Habitat III New Urban AgendaThe GLTN is very proud to celebrate the long awaited adoption of the New Urban Agenda   at the recently concluded Habitat III Conference that brought together 30,000 participants, including 10,000 international participants from 167 countries to Quito, Ecuador.  Congratulation to all of us for the hard work, the perseverance, the relentless advocacy, the countless negotiations and consultations and ultimately the strong partnership that put land at the center of the New Urban Agenda.

    The New Urban Agenda gives us critical guidance for implementation and great partnership opportunities for effective and sustainable land governance interventions for the next 20 years. The role of land is very well captured in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), with its social, ecological and economic functions well articulated in the adopted document. The NUA calls for securing land and property rights for all, with great emphasis on improving access to land and natural resources by women , youth and vulnerable groups. The document recognizes the plurality of tenure types and advocates for the development of approaches that are fit-for-purpose, age, gender and environment responsive that acknowledge the continuum of land and property rights framework. It also seeks to prevent arbitrary forced evictions, promote affordable serviced land, promote access to public property and land, and recognize the importance of responsive land policies.

    In several instances, the Agenda calls for the sustainable use and management of land and natural resources. For environmental sustainability, the NUA promotes sustainable land use by committing to actions that will prevent unnecessary land use changes and the loss of productive land as well as fragile and important ecosystems. The document also calls for stronger rural-urban linkages that promote the balance between the social, economic and ecological functions of land.

    In terms of financial sustainability and shared economic prosperity, the document commits to sound and transparent systems of financial transfers from national government to sub-national and local governments. It calls for sharing the benefits of the increase in land and property values generated as a result of urban development projects and investments and it advocates for the adoption of land-based revenue and financing tools and the effective functioning of land and property markets that result in sustainable land use and consumption while promoting the well being of the poor, women and vulnerable groups.

    The NUA recognizes the need for strong, inclusive management frameworks, accountable institutions and more responsive and fit-for-purpose land administration and management solutions if the above commitments are to be effective and sustainable.

    The Draft outcome document of Habitat III that was adopted as-is is available here: New Urban Agenda

    After the Habitat III Conference adoption of the NUA and recommendation to the General Assembly for adoption, the final step is now for the General Assembly to formally adopt it.

  • Special Session on Urban Land

    Urban Land Management: Building the Foundations for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda

    19 October 2016, 13:00 – 15:00 | Habitat III, Quito, Ecuador

    special session

    Land is fundamental for the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights and a key foundation in tackling urbanization challenges although it is not always reflected in policies that intervene and get implemented when addressing urban realities and cities’ needs. Governance of land is central to reducing inequalities, multi-dimensional poverty, the realization of many human rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living for all (e.g. housing), the right to adequate food and environmental sustainability. It is also important to harness sustainable and transformative urbanization and to improve municipal revenues. Since land cuts across all sectors in urban development, urban land management offers unique opportunities in reinvigorating the call and commitment towards the New Urban Agenda.

    The inter-dependence of urban and rural areas economically, socially and environmentally also proved to be relevant and critical as more and more cities continue to expand. Sustainable urban development therefore requires consideration of the carrying capacity of the entire ecosystem supporting such development, including the prevention and mitigation of adverse environmental impacts occurring outside urban areas and enhancing municipal revenues. This calls for identification and adoption of innovative land management and planning tools that are innovative, impactful and fit-for-purpose.

    The development of the New Urban Agenda has not been a single process but has involved participation of all relevant actors including key land actors, women’s and grassroots women’s organizations and stakeholders. The process includes substantial contribution in the different issue papers, policy units, regional meetings and constant advocacy and information sharing with partners, allies and the society at large. This reaffirms global commitment to sustainable urban development in an integrated and coordinated manner at global, regional, national, sub-national and local level.

    This Special Session, as co-organized by UN-Habitat and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), will therefore bring together a variety of actors from all over the world to discuss key urban land challenges and opportunities in addition to taking stock of achievements in entrenching core messaging on equal rights, access and control to land within the context of the New Urban Agenda. The Session will also attempt to identify and agree on specific recommendations for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

    All are welcome to attend the Session.


Contact Info:

Location: Gigiri, UN Complex
Office: NOF South Wing Block 3
Telephone: +254 207623858
Email: gltn[at]

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