UN Habitat III secretary-general Joan Clos said during a press briefing on Wednesday that the three-day meeting, followed by 2,571 official delegates from 142 UN member countries, had produced the New Urban Agenda, which would be proposed to the Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, in October.
“One of the most crucial issues is that we consume too much land. Countries should make efforts to create better density and compactness of urban areas in order to control the sprawl of urbanization,” he said.
Many growing cities in the world, including Greater Jakarta, have turned rural land into new urban areas. The public works and public housing agency reported 60 percent of farmland in Java had been altered into housing complexes.
Clos said governments should anticipate this problem through policies, regulations and incentives for more balanced urbanization.
“Another topic that requires the attention of the government is mixed-use urban space,” he said.
He said among problems the world faced was the designation of land for specific functions, such as commercial, settlement, industrial and recreational areas.
This tendency had created huge mobility demand, as families need to drive to commercial zones and workers need to walk to industrial zones everyday, he added.
“When we want to solve the mobility problems, we need to create mixed use spaces in several parts of the city,” he said.
He said the third aspect that needed to be addressed was poverty in the cities. “Lots of people arriving in the city need to be trained and prepared to take up jobs the city has to offer,” he said.
“It cannot be solved at once and needs a long-term policy that requires a very high level of commitment to allocate resources, to educate and train so they will find the kind of work that they need to have a decent life,” he said.
If not, he went on, new urban poverty would emerge in many parts of the world. That creates problems of security, social unrest, terrorism and many other social problems.
Clos also pointed out the need for local authorities to have more power and capacity to address every day issues.
PrepCom3 organizing committee chairwoman Rina Agustin Indriani said the negotiation and discussion of the New Urban Agenda ran well.
“Indonesia will prioritize cultural aspects to become one of the urban development [programs] that would be sustainable,” she said.
Rina also emphasized the importance of people-centered development. “If society does not take part in the process, there will be problems in the future,” she said.
Separately, Ahmad Rifai, the co-founder of Surakarta-based urban initiative and empowerment NGO Kota Kita, said the real issue right now was how to implement the New Urban Agenda.
“I think it is more interesting to talk about how to monitor and control the implementation,” he said.
He added that Indonesia usually procrastinated the implementation. “We are always late in implementing global agreements,” he said.