The contribution of the scientific community is vital for supporting the technical, design, institutional and governance challenges facing individual towns and cities and the global system of cities. Science is also key to understanding life within urban ecosystems and the impact of cities on future global environmental change.
At the UN’s Habitat III conference, which took place in Quito, Ecuador on 17-20 October 2016, ICSU (the ISC’s predecessor organization) played a role convening the scientific community and providing a platform for engagement. With its co-sponsored programmes, it advocated for a strong role for science in the New Urban Agenda, the outcome document of the conference, which should in turn support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 11 on cities.
In July of 2016, ICSU, together with the World Health Organization, the governments of Ghana and Norway, the United Nations University Institute of Global Health, and the International Society for Urban Health, convened an expert meeting to coordinate the community’s input to the New Urban Agenda. The meeting resulted in proposed language which was ultimately included in the New Urban Agenda, and a report on “Health as the pulse of the New Urban Agenda”, which outlines critical connections between health and urban policies and will serve as the basis for further action by the Urban Health and Wellbeing programme.
Habitat X Change
As part of its science advocacy and stakeholder engagement remit, ICSU partnered with Future Earth and the Urban Complexity Lab at the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany, in the design and execution of a knowledge exchange platform called Habitat X Change. A total of 17 events were held in the space, ranging from science policy dialogues, the launch of Future Earth’s Knowledge Action Network to co-organized events with city stakeholder groups such as C40, WHO and UCLG. The Habitat X Change blog was also set up to share thinking on science, urbanisation and data visualisation.