The Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development adopted the New Delhi declaration on Friday. It was the culmination of a three-day dialogue by the member nations of the Asia-Pacific region, which together account for more than half of the global urban population.
This was the first such meeting held to discuss ways of realising the New Urban Agenda that was finalised during the United Nations-Habitat III conference in Quito in October 2016. The declaration that was released at the end of the conference, hosted by India this year, will be reviewed at the next biennial Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development which will be hosted by Iran two years later.
“Urbanisation can lead to many problems and at the same time, if harnessed well, it can serve as an engine of growth. The New Urban Agenda is a global document and it needs to be localised as per the specific needs of the region and the country. One of the main way forward for this region, that emerged from our discussion, is to urbanise keeping in mind the urban-rural continuum,” said Yoshinobu Fukasawa, the director for the UN-HABITAT Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
This approach, known as Urban Plus, will address ways to make urban expansion sustainable and manageable. Rao Inderjit Singh, MoS for urban development, said this would mean an emphasis on planning for urban and its adjoining peri-urban and rural areas in an integrated manner.
The Delhi Declaration also stressed on the need to review existing policies and draft new ones that will take forward the aims of the New Urban Agenda. It also looks at integration of land use and transportation planning, community participation in urban planning and service delivery.
Bruno Dercon, the Senior Human Settlements Officer for UN-HABITAT Asia-Pacific said that the regional talks, in addition to being a knowledge sharing exercise, also throw up the common problems of urbanisation that plague the some disparate countries in the region. “We found that one such issue, that of urban renewal, was common to India, Iran and China which are otherwise very different from each other.,” he said.