This October in Quito, Ecuador, the international community will gather at Habitat III - the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development - to discuss important urban challenges as the world’s cities grow at an unprecedented rate.
Today, 54.5% of people live in towns and cities. There is a global consensus that the way towns and cities are structured and how they function urgently needs to change as our societies do. Slums and other informal settlements – in which more than 827 million people lived in 2010 – are a manifestation of how cities and towns have been unable to cope with this dramatic shift.
The goal of Habitat III, which takes place from 17-20 October, is to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation and focus on implementing a New Urban Agenda, which sets a path to guide urbanisation over the next 20 years.
Urban mobility and transport, that is strategic and well planned, is crucial in making cities more sustainable. It can curb sprawl, create compact, walkable neighbourhoods and reduce the number of kilometres vehicles travel.
The New Urban Agenda includes transport and mobility in one of its six main policy areas, with a focus on integrating land-use and transport planning, seeking innovative financing and using big data to help countries leapfrog to more sustainable modes.
A number of urban mobility initiatives and projects with considerable expertise in these and other related fields have provided expert feedback ahead of the summit Quito. Some have also submitted applications to host side events, workshops and trainings to ensure that the Habitat III process drives global action on sustainable urban mobility.
These include projects and initiatives like SOLUTIONS and UEMI – and the EcoMobility programme, organiser of the EcoMobility World Festivals in Suwon (2013) and Johannesburg (2015), and the EcoMobility Alliance, which is an initiative developed by the cities for cities to advance urban mobility.
The EcoMobility Alliance is hosting a special four-day event in Quito called EcoMobility Days, which will bring ambitious city leaders together to collectively deliberate on ecomobility and find ways forward to implement ecomobility in cities.
The event consist of workshops and open days that will include presentations from the participating cities of the EcoMobility Alliance and various Alliance partners that support local, regional and national governments in implementing urban mobility.
One of the open days will bring together mayors, deputy mayors, heads of transport and city representatives from Asia, Latin America and Europe together with a range of partners to discuss implementing sustainable mobility in cities.
Another of the days, a workshop on transport demand management, will target local decision-makers and practitioners who want to learn the basics of traffic-demand management strategies and explore the implementation in cities
These and other side events at Quito - bringing together national, regional and local governments to discuss sustainable urban mobility development planning and implementation - can make a real impact in cities around the world.
They will also demonstrate that the role mobility and transport can play in cities to help further the New Urban Agenda should not be underestimated.
Cities with effective transport and mobility systems can reduce fuel consumption, clean up the air and provide opportunities for social interaction. They can help people get access to jobs, education and health services. And, above all, they play a critical role in making cities – which are homes to millions - better places to live.