Australia’s ever-increasing urban population is a major focus for designers and planners looking to create sustainable, smart, liveable cities for the future.

According to the World Bank, 89% of Australia’s population currently lives in urban areas, which poses as many urban design opportunities as it does challenges.

And while Australia is leading the way in planning for the liveable, affordable, connected cities of the future, a recent article published in The Conversation highlights the Australian government’s absence from discussions about urbanisation on a global scale.

The article introduces the Habitat III conference, which will see 25,000 delegates from member states all over the world coming together in Quito, Ecuador, this October, to set out the UN’s New Urban Agenda.

“The New Urban Agenda is not intended to be a legally binding document. Instead, it aims to provide guidance to member states and UN agencies,” The Conversation reports.

“However, several nations are yet to engage with the Habitat III process, either through preparatory meetings or by submitting country-level urban reports.

“The Australian government has so far been absent from the Habitat III process. In regional thematic meetings, the Australian chair has remained empty, despite our heavily urbanised population, regional investment in urban development, and urban policy expertise.

“The agenda represents a key opportunity to reflect on Australia’s role in engaging with pressing urban development questions at home and abroad.”

The recent demotion of Australia’s first Minister for Cities was also touched on in the article, as a clear indication that Australia is moving the wrong direction when it comes to opening up essential national and global dialogue about the sustainability of our urban environments.

“The draft New Urban Agenda recognises that decisions about how we house, feed and mobilise urban populations will have a critical impact on human well-being and sustainability,” The Conversation reports.

“Key focus areas include guiding national urban policies and systems of urban governance. The draft also has a strong emphasis on citizen participation and democratic processes.

“What sets the agenda apart from its predecessors is the elevation of pressing global issues, such as urban informality, gender equity and disaster and climate resilience. It also recognises cities as drivers of economic and social development.”

While it’s still not clear yet whether the Australian government will be sending a representative to Habitat III, there’s no lack of support for the event among Australian industry bodies – with over 30 representatives attending the conference this year.

“Despite its challenges, the New Urban Agenda is persuasive. It will inspire urban actors to champion its cause and drive its implementation,” The Conversation Reports.

“It will undoubtedly be used to frame funding policies of important bodies like the UN Development Program, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

“Fulfilling our UN member state role in Habitat III is an opportunity not to be missed.”

To read the full article visit The Conversation.

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