New Urban Agenda and perspectives for the street vendors in HABITAT III Conference

23 June 2016

By Oksana Abboud, StreetNet Media Officer

The HABITAT III Conference, also known as the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development is going to be held in Quito, Ecuador, on 17-20 October 2016.

Since the conference will bring together a large range of urban actors including local authorities, civil society, representatives of workers in the informal economy, the private sector, academic and professional institutions, and all other relevant interest groups to review urban policies affecting the future of cities, we street and market vendors have a right to become part of those actors who draft a New Urban Agenda for all of us.

Every 20 years, UN HABITAT outlines an urban agenda and this year a New Urban Agenda will be decided by all the UN Member States. A new urbanization model will set fresh priorities and strategies that take into account the evolving patterns of the new century.

It is very important to mobilize around the process while the New Urban Agenda is still being formulated.

It should be noted that the role of street vendors here in the process of developing a new and inclusive urban policy is very important, as we, informal workers who perform the activity on the street, know exactly what we want and what we need for securing livelihoods and having a safe working place. That’s why we have to address our main challenges and concerns which directly affect our daily lives. All the local realities need to be brought to the table for wide international discussion.

We need to realize that the New Urban Agenda must create space for the voice, experience and strategies of the urban poor in urban policy, planning and development. It’s also a great chance to get new practices by local authorities in developing urban planning which should be participatory and inclusive.

In South Africa, StreetNet affiliate, Ubumbano Traders’ Alliance, together with members of other allied organizations SASEWA (South African Self-Employed Women’s Association), SAWPA (South African Waste Pickers’ Association), KwaZulu-Natal Fishermen’s Forum and the workers’ organizations of minibus-taxi drivers, launched "The City we Want" Campaign in Durban in March 2016. They will use Local Government elections in August 2016 to draw the attention of election candidates to their demands.

The national Campaign was part of the international "The City We Need" campaign launched by UN HABITAT in preparation for the HABITAT III.

It is an exemplary case how we need to mobilize before such international events.

Although HABITAT III will take place in October, 2016, the Habitat III preparatory process started in September 2014 and will continue until the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the Habitat III Conference in Surabaya, Indonesia, in July 2016.

During this period, 11 regional and thematic meetings have been held all over the world, mobilizing national and local governments and stakeholders.

To get an inclusive, efficient, effective, and improved document, it was decided by the UN General Assembly to organize five days of open-ended informal consultative meetings before the submission of the draft outcome in order to provide opportunity for feedback on the conclusions of the Habitat III Policy Units and the Regional and Thematic meetings.

The General Assembly also invited the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee to convene informal inter-governmental negotiations for three days in May, three days in June, and three days in July. Local Authorities’ associations and stakeholders are invited to participate in two-day informal hearings in May and June.

The first major output of the Habitat III process took place in May 2015, when agencies from across the United Nations and others published 22 "issue papers" – key technical snapshots of various sectors and thematic areas in today’s urbanization trends. The following "Issue papers" might have a particular interest of street vendors, namely: Inclusive and Safer Cities, Urban Land, Public Space, Jobs and Livelihoods, Informal Sector and Informal Settlements.

All these "Issue Papers" with translation into 7 languages can be found here: https://www.habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda/issue-papers

Some Thematic Meetings issued their Declarations.

Thus, Barcelona Declaration on "Public Spaces" can be found here: https://www.habitat3.org/bitcache/975978dd841424298425c84df671171ca467a70f?vid=576593&disposition=inline&op=view

From October 2015 to March 2016, some 200 global experts and practitioners came together in 10 thematic "policy units" vested with offering key recommendations on the drafting and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

One of the policy units is "The Right to the City and Cities for all". The document itself can be found here:https://www.habitat3.org/bitcache/c6ab256c94e1212a2f9f629a655ba5cf5e6a4312?vid=572970&disposition=inline&op=view

On June 18, a New Revised Draft of the New Urban Agenda was issued for broader discussion and can be found here: https://www.habitat3.org/bitcache/462d74cfb2e04878ff43c8fcca48037daf73d84f?vid=582559&disposition=inline&op=view

More documents and reports can be reached on this link: http://citiscope.org/habitatIII/explainer/2016/04/h abitat-iii-source-documents-and-resources

We encourage all StreetNet affiliates to approach their national governments and ask them to also consider and include "street vendors concerns" in their national reports which they were formally requested to prepare before the Habitat III Conference.

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