Ahead of the United Nations Habitat III conference on urban development in Quito next week, the Ford Foundation hosted a press briefing on what’s at stake. Experts from Ford, the State Department, Habitat III, the Huairou Commission, and the World Resources Institute discussed the top priorities at the conference and the impact the final conference agreement, called the New Urban Agenda, will have on cities around the world. Topics covered include building sustainable infrastructure and basic needs in cities, the voices of local governments and grassroots organizations, monitoring progress, and accountability.

Read the full briefing transcript 

DON CHEN – Director, Equitable Development, Ford Foundation

“We’ve reinforced this notion that [Habitat III] represents unprecedented global resolve and the global agreement about the importance of and the need for inclusive, equitable and sustainable urbanization but it is going to be challenging and we all know that so we have to be intentional about getting diverse stakeholders to work together, learn together and hold each other accountable for the progress that we want to make.”

IAN KLAUS – Senior Adviser for Global Cities, US State Department

“You need only look at the demographics and the data of where people live, where they’re going to live, where economic production occurs, where energy is used and where carbon emissions are produced to understand how crucial cities are to fulfilling the landmark agreements of the past couple of years most notably the agenda for sustainable development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Habitat III was and is the global dialogue in negotiations about how to do that.”

ANI DASGUPTA – Global Director, WRI Ross Center For Sustainable Cities

“I think 6 billion people will live in cities in our lifetime. So how cities work will matter not only to the 6 billion people but also to whether economies will grow or not. Cities matter.”

ANA MORENO – Coordinator, Habitat III Secretariat

“The issues impact not only the visible citizens but also what we call the invisible citizens. There are a lot of informal settlements around the world that need to get into the conversation, that need to be included in the implementation of building sustainable cities and how they want to see their cities in the future.”

KATIA ARAUJO – Director of Programs, Huairou Commission

“In the aftermath of Habitat III, we need to have a massive push for a diversity of local mechanisms for the implementation of the new urban agenda to be established…There is an urgent need to support the local process driven by local priorities and community organizations and local capabilities—the grass roots and the urban dwellers already working on those issues…We [have to] make use of the tools and knowledge that we already have so citizens can move toward the inclusive and just sustainable future that we all want.”

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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