AESOP has recently applied to become an accredited partner of UN HABITAT and it already became one of the members of the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), a special initiative proposed by the World Urban Campaign (WUC) to serve as a platform for non-governmental partners in Habitat III.

The Habitat III Conference aims to adopt a New Urban Agenda (NUA)—an action-oriented document which will set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities through cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors at all levels of government as well as the private sector.

 AESOP has been contributing to the debates on the New Urban Agenda and, as a result, prepared this Position Paper which focuses on the role that research and academia and, in particular, our planning schools should play in the implementation phase of the NUA, through capacity building, knowledge production, and research that informs policymaking, as  well as data collection and analysis for the subsquent monitoring phases.

 The ExCo would like to thank our colleague  Prof. Ela Babalik Sutcliffe  for leading the preparation of this document.

AESOP's Position Paper on the NEW URBAN AGENDA


With over 150 members, Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) is the only representation of planning schools of Europe. Given this unique position, AESOP mobilizes its resources, taking a leading role and entering its expertise into ongoing debates and initiatives regarding planning issues, planning education and planning qualifications of future professionals.
AESOP has been involved in and following the discussions and development of the New Urban Agenda via GPEAN, which we are a member of, and via the General Assembly of Partners, a stakeholder platform towards Habitat-III, comprising a number of partner constituent groups, one of which is the Research and Academia.

While AESOP recognizes the positive progress that has taken place in the content of the New Urban Agenda since its initial drafts, and in the process of stakeholder involvement, particularly through the General Assembly of Partners, certain issues in the New Urban Agenda require careful consideration.

One such issue is the rather universal approach offered in the document in tackling the problems of human settlements in the face of varying local realities, which refer not only to a diversity of complex urban problems and priorities in difference settings, but also to different governmental structures, policy contexts, and capacities in implementing and enforcing policies as well as in monitoring their effects via reliable data. Research and academy can play a significant role in the successful implementation of the rather universal policy recommendations of the New Urban Agenda by facilitating research- and evidence-informed policymaking, evidence-based governance, and collection, analysis and dissemination of data with a view to reinforce local knowledge.

Following this, the increased emphasis of the New Urban Agenda on capacity development, knowledge platforms, and issues of implementation are seen as strong points of this document.

However, the role that research and academia can (and should) play in capacity development, knowledge production, and follow-up and review of the New Urban Agenda are not adequately acknowledged in the final draft that is being taken to the Quito meeting.

Among many disciplines dealing with the multidisciplinary issues of human settlements, our planning schools, within the AESOP community as well as worldwide, should be actively involved in the post-Habitat III process to ensure the successful implementation of the New Urban Agenda by offering their expertise in knowledge production and research, as well as helping build capacity both for effective formulation and implementation of policies and for data collection.

Acknowledgement of, and a more explicit support for, the role that research and academia can play in the post-Habitat III process would not only contribute to the successful implementation of the New Urban Agenda, but also strengthen the link between research and practice, and between academia and local/national governments, which would have positive and wide-ranging repercussions in tackling problems of human settlements.

Consequently, as AESOP, we consider this point to have a significant importance and hence we provide this input for the Habitat III process (via General Assembly of Partners) on behalf of the AESOP community so that the role of research and academia is emphasised more strongly in the New Urban Agenda document as well as in the post-Habitat III process. Thus, we also encourage all our member schools to be as actively engaged as possible with the Quito Implementation Plan.
October 2016