Habitat III and The New Urban Agenda

For billions of people around the world, the future will increasingly be urban. IDS research has been charting this dramatic change for nearly a decade, highlighting the complex challenges this shift poses for people, sustainability and development.

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Habitat III

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. IDS and our partners were at the Conference in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 to 20 October 2016.

Habitat III is one of the first United Nations global summits after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It offers a unique opportunity to discuss the important challenge of how cities, towns, and villages are planned and managed, in order to fulfil their role as drivers of sustainable development.

The New Urban Agenda

The Conference's mission is the adoption of a New Urban Agenda - 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 drawing together cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors at all levels of government as well as the civil society and private sector.

IDS at Habitat III

With a particular emphasis on 'inclusion', IDS researchers and partners contributed to the Habitat III process through various policy influencing activities, events, publications and blogs. Many of these are highlighted in the key resources section below.

Members of the IDS Cities Cluster participated in a number of events at Habitat III and were proud to host a side event ‘Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind’ at which we launched a new film called 'No One Left Behind' that draws on voices from marginalised city communities in six focus countries and gives a grave security message from the poor: ‘do not weaponize the city’.

Key resources

Recent publications:



Digital story:


  • Karhera: A photo book’ tells the story of change in Karhera, a farming village in the midst of urban India, through words and images. The photos were taken and collected with the collaboration of local residents.

Impact story:

Photo: 'Favela5' by Erin Willimanson, cc on flickr. 

Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities (SDIC)

The “Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities” (SDIC) project aims strengthen technical and institutional capacities by working directly with municipal authorities participating in the Smart Cities Mission in four secondary cities in India: Bhopal and Jabalpur (in Madhya Pradesh) and Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (in Kerala). More details

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind

IDS Policy Briefing 128 (2016)

Half of humanity now lives in urban areas, and a growing number of cities are leading the way in generating global GDP. However, cities have increasingly become key loci of violence over the last 50 years, which particularly affects the most marginalised. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind: Seven Key Pathways to Actualising the Principles of the New Urban Agenda

This paper serves as a background note for the Habitat III side-event ‘Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind’. It brings together research and practice to understand how well-managed urbanisation can revitalise urban spaces that had either been lost to violence or suffered from a lack of access to basic services and neglect. More details


The Role of Cities and Urbanisation in Achieving Development Goals

IDS Evidence Report 192 (2016)

The world is in the midst of a long and uneven urban transition, with the great majority of urbanisation and urban population growth now occurring in parts of Asia and Africa. Urbanisation has profound effects on local rural and urban economies, life chances and environments, though much depends on how it is handled. More details