Resolution Requests UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director to Ensure the Application of Place-Making Internationally

April 15, 2011- Nairobi, Kenya

The Governing Council of UN-HABITAT (United Nations Human Settlement Programme) has adopted the first-ever public space resolution which urges the development of a policy approach for the international application of Placemaking.

The resolution, adopted during its 23rd Session, “requests the Executive Director, in collaboration with Habitat Agenda partners…to develop a policy approach on the role that place-making can play in meeting the challenges of our rapidly urbanizing world, to disseminate that policy and its results widely and to develop a plan for ensuring its application internationally…”

PPS and UN-HABITAT

PPS and UN-HABITAT have developed a letter of collaboration affirming UN-HABITAT’s interest in working with Project for Public Spaces towards sustainable urbanization, with a specific focus on Placemaking, Public Spaces, and Urban Quality of Life.   This is aligned with UN-HABITAT’s Medium Term Strategic and Institutional Plan 2008-13 Focus Area on Urban Planning, Management, and Governance.

As part of this collaboration, PPS has been working with UN-HABITAT to tie Place-making to the UN-HABITAT’s key priority areas of New Urban Planning, Urban Institutions and Governance, Urban Economy and Finance.The recently adopted resolution was among 19 in-session documents debated by the governing council and was submitted by Kenya and passed with the strong support of member states such as Mexico and the European Union. The Women’s Caucus also supported the resolution.

The resolution takes note of the World Charter on the Right to the City and “its resolve that cities should constitute an environment of full realization of all human rights and fundamental liberties assuring the dignity and collective well-being of all people, in conditions of equality and justice, and that all persons have the right to find in the city the necessary conditions for their political, economic, cultural, social and ecological realization…”

Part of a Growing Awareness that Quality Public Spaces are Linked to Quality of Life

This resolution represents the first consolidated approach to inclusive urban public space policy within UN-HABITAT.  And although successfully functioning public spaces are one of the most visible forms of public good, Local Authorities’ and urban planners’ appreciation of its social dimension beyond its physical dimension is lacking.  This resolution is yet another sign of a growing global recognition that public spaces are a significant aspect of quality of urban life.  PPS is thrilled that this resolution recognizes that creating and sustaining quality public spaces through a Place-making approach is an issue of planning, management, and participatory governance and a key component of sustainable urban development.

Resolution on Sustainable Urban Development through Access to Quality Urban Public Spaces

The resolution includes the following seven invitations and requests:

1. Invites Governments to formulate and implement sustainable urban development policies that promote socially just and environmentally balanced uses of urban public space in conditions of urban security and gender equity that foster urban resilience;

2. Invites Governments and local authorities to facilitate the use of public spaces of cities such as streets, parks and markets to foster social, cultural, economic and environmental convergences so that all citizens have access to public spaces in a socially just landscape and within resilient environmental conditions;

3. Invites national Governments and development partners and encourages local authorities to consider:

(a) Implementing urban environmental planning, regulation and management that promotes equilibrium between urban development and protection of natural, historic, architectural, cultural and artistic heritage, that impedes segregation and territorial exclusion, that prioritizes social production of public space and that encourages the social and creative economic function of cities and property: for that purpose, cities should adopt measures that foster integration and equity with quality urban public spaces that respect environmentally friendly processes;

(b) Integrating the theme of urban safety for all citizens, especially for women, girls and other vulnerable groups, as an attribute of the public space, taking into account gender and age considerations in the laws regulating the use of public space;

4. Requests the Executive Director through the medium-term strategic and institutional plan to advance the agenda on place-making and public spaces in a specific way that will consolidate local and international approaches to creating inclusive cities, enhance the knowledge of partners of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme and local authorities of place-making, public spaces and the quality of urban life and facilitate and implement exchange, cooperation and research between partners working in this field;

5. Also requests the Executive Director, in collaboration with Habitat Agenda partners, to develop a policy approach on the role that place-making can play in meeting the challenges of our rapidly urbanizing world, to disseminate that policy and its results widely and to develop a plan for ensuring its application internationally;

6. Further requests the Executive Director to assist in coordinating partners of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in disseminating knowledge to existing sustainable urban development processes at all governmental levels;

7. Requests the Executive Director to report to the Governing Council on operating paragraphs calling for action by the Executive Director, at its twenty-fourth session, on progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.

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