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UN Habitat III


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Pascal Mittermaier


By 2050, two of every three people on Earth will live in a city. Every six weeks, new urban areas housing the population of New York appear somewhere in the world.

October 17-20, 2016, leaders from around the world—including a team from The Nature Conservancy—will gather for the United Nations’ Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador to develop strategies for ensuring that this unprecedented urbanization builds sustainable and equitable cities.

Well-planned, truly sustainable urban development can both protect lands and water from the impacts of cities and bring nature’s power to the people living in cities to improve their lives. Nature can help cities clean and cool their air as well as managing flooding, sea level rise and stormwater runoff, which is a major source of water pollution.

The New Urban Agenda that will be adopted at Habitat III cites the importance of natural solutions—specifically calling out green space, sustainable resource use, source water protection, pollution reduction, waste management and renewable energy—for public health and economic vitality in cities. The Agenda acknowledges that land use change threatens drinking water sources and other resources as cities grow, and cites the importance of climate resilience and adaptation efforts.

Much of the Conservancy’s work addresses these same goals. It’s both exciting and validating that The Nature Conservancy’s bold vision for how cities can be catalysts for a more sustainable future is so closely aligned with this new vision being adopted by the United Nations. The pieces below express how the Conservancy’s science and other initiatives serve these goals of a healthy, sustainable “city for all.”

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