The University of Newcastle, Australia

Rethinking future urban development at United Nations conference

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The University of Newcastle’s (UON) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, and CIFAL Newcastle Director, Associate Professor Graham Brewer, attended the United Nations (UN) Habitat III Conference held in Ecuador last week to discuss the role universities will play in shaping sustainable development in cities around the world.

Associate Professor Graham Brewer, Professor Caroline McMillen, Councillor Michael Osbourne and Councillor Declan Clausen
Associate Professor Graham Brewer, Professor Caroline McMillen, Councillor Michael Osbourne and Councillor Declan Clausen.

Held only every 20 years, Habitat III focused on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development with the aim to create global standards of achievement set out in a document referred to as The New Urban Agenda.

Associate Professor Graham Brewer said the Conference highlighted the sustainability challenges that cities face moving forward and a global commitment to resilient urban development was required to ensure dignity and equitable access to housing, employment and services for the citizens of cities world-wide.

“By 2050 it is expected 70% of the world’s population will reside in cities, which means we need to develop innovative strategies and systems to ensure adequate housing, urban resilience, disaster risk reduction and sustainable settlements,” Associate Professor Graham Brewer said

“In 2015, the city of Newcastle was named a ‘United Nations City’ and became a UN training hub for the Asia-Pacific region for Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction. UON will play an important role in partnership with local and international partners in applying The New Urban Agenda to the Hunter and our regions through our world-leading research and education.”

On September 25th 2015, all 193 countries of the world adopted a set of goals intended to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure dignity for all through the 2030 Development Agenda and its associated Sustainable Development Goals. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years, and CIFAL Newcastle has a UN mandate to promote understanding and their adoption by all sectors of society.

Professor McMillen said the opportunity to contribute to Habitat III and have discussions with CIFAL leaders from across the world, including UN Assistant Secretary General Nikhil Seth, would enhance the Hunter's global engagement and future vision.

“The strong ties between our university and our regions, and the local and global partnerships we build, will be critical in developing a sustainable and forward-thinking region. Our focus on equity of access to education, as well as innovation, entrepreneurship and research, will make a real difference to the direction our city and the communities in our regions take,” Professor McMillen said.

Both Professor Caroline McMillen and Associate Professor Graham Brewer spoke at the meeting of CIFAL leaders focusing on Newcastle as a Univer-City and the importance of integrating urban planning with disaster risk reduction.

Habitat III was attended by approximately 36,000 stakeholders from UN Member States including parliamentarians, government representatives, professionals, researchers, women and youth groups, the private sector and trade unions.


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