KEY STRATEGIES | UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Campaign, publicly announced in 2010, is being strengthened by the agency’s new Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos (a former Mayor of Barcelona).

UN-HABITAT Executive Director Dr Joan Clos

After several years of preparations by an international steering committee managed by a small team in the UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi, the campaign officially was launched by Dr Clos’ predecessor, Dr Anna Tibaijuka, during the 2010 World Urban Forum in Rio de Janiero. Dr Tibaijuka finished her term shortly after that assembly of more than 14,000 international delegates.

During Dr Clos’ 2011 administrative restructuring of the UN agency ‘for better urban futures’, he has set up a new Communications, Advocacy and Outreach division within his office. Now led by Spanish communications specialist Ana Moreno, it will manage future evolution of both the World Urban Campaign and a new public marketing project branded ‘I’m a City Changer’.

The World Urban Campaign steering committee – of representatives from a range of urban development and city government organisations – is led by former long-standing UN-HABITAT official Nicholas You (Chair) and United States urban planning academic Dr Eugenie Birch (Deputy Chair). With the earlier UN-HABITAT secretariat led by Nicholas You before his retirement, they have established contractual partnerships with a range of large and small commercial, government and non-government organisations.

Partners of the World Urban Campaign have agreed to support the agreed goal ‘Better City, Better Life’ via six ‘Paris Principles’ to help support sustainable urban development:
—A Green City
—A Planned City
—An Inclusive City
—A Productive City
—A Safe and Healthy City
—A Resilient City

At the campaign steering committee’s latest meeting in Amsterdam, Dr Clos told partners ‘we are placing a lot of effort and impetus for the success of the World Urban Campaign. I want to project three key messages.

‘One. The city is an asset not a liability. We need a new approach to cities in the media. We have seen a pessimistic approach focused on the problems of the city. This is not good– it doesn’t help to mobilise positive energies.

‘Two. Cities should be well planned and designed. Intelligent urban planning is extremely important. If we don’t design the future of a city then we end up with a mass of initiatives without order. This has been the case since the first cities were built in the Mesapotamian era 5000 years ago.

‘Three. Cities are communities. They are efforts and results by collectives of humans. This is why the public sector should work with the private sector on urban development goals.’

As well as the six Paris Principles and Dr Clos’ three concepts for understanding cities, UN-HABITAT has developed seven new priorities for improving key challenges shared by many cities, especially in developing countries. These are:
—better urban planning and design
—better urban legislation and governance
—better urban economies and job creation systems
—better basic services (especially water and sanitation)
—better transport and energy provision
—better housing (especially relevant to slum settlements)
—reduction of risks to citizens
—better urban research and capacity development