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Habitat III and COP21

Good planning and experienced planners play a crucial role in implementing  international agreements on sustainable development including implementing the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Countries, including the UK, have been trying to address global challenges like rapid urbanisation, por air quality and climate change impacts by signing critical international agreements - like commitments on climate change (COP21) and on housing and sustainable development (Habitat III).

Please see our latest briefing note outlining global challenges and international commitments. The RTPI is actively engaged and promoting the role that good planning and skilled planners can play in helping to implement these. Our Board has also agreed to an RTPI-wide Action Plan on international sustainable development commitments. Full details of all our activities are included below and The Planner magazine has a number of published articles here.

Habitat III (Quito, Ecuador)

(17 – 20 October 2016)

The United Nations (UN) conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (Habitat III) took place in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. 

Its aim was to set a new global development agenda for sustainable urban development over the next 20 years. This included adopting the new Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. Both outcomes will help guide the urban development efforts of nations, cities, regions and international development funders, UN programmes and civil society.

News and Blogs:

  1. RTPI co-founds humanitarian crises advisory group
  2. Trudi Elliott (RTPI Chief Executive's) '13 things I learned at Habitat III'
  3. The Planner magazine's UN Habitat III round up
  4. Frances Thompson (MSc student. University of Sheffield): A young planner's verdict from Habitat III
  5. Trudi Elliott (RTPI Chief Executive): We need violence free homes, places and politics
  6. Victoria Pinoncely (RTPI Research Officer): International Women's Day: Implementing the New Urban Agenda on Gender Equality
  7. Diana Fitzsimons (Co Chair of the Habitats Professional Forum): Working for UN-Habitat's World Urban Campaign
  8. Alice Charles (World Economic Forum's Urban Lead): the New Urban Agenda has been formally adopted, so what happens next?
  9. Jose Morales (Ecuadorian Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Director): Habitat III and Housing National Policies in Ecuador 
  10. Geoffrey Payne (International Housing and Urban Development Consutlant): Reflections on Habitat III

What did the RTPI do at Habitat III?

The Habitat III conference venue was at the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, Benjamin Carrion, in Quito. The 2017 RTPI president, Cheif Executive and International Policy and Research officer all attended, presented and championed planners alongside our sister planning institutes.


Speaking engagements:

  • 17 Oct: 'Planning for Public Engagement' organised by the Global Planners Network (side event no. 1186504):
  • 18 Oct:  'Place-making' organised by the International Federation of Housing and Planning (Habitat Village 'Pop Up talk')
  • 19 Oct: 'Creating safe and inclusive cities that leave no one behind' organised by the Institute of Development Studies (Side Event: No. 1209772)
  • 19 Oct: 'How Built Environment Professionals Can Help Humanitarian Agencies Pre and Post Disasters' organised by the RTPI on behalf of the UKBEAG (Side event: No. 1183932)
  • 19 Oct: 'Smart Cities in the New Urban Agenda' organised by the International Society of City and Regional Planners (Side Event: No. 1172583)

See: UN-Habitat

Key figures from Habitat III:

  • 30,000 people , among them 10,000 international participants from 167 countries were accredited in the conference
  • 1,000 events took place, including 8 plenary sessions, 6 high-level roundtable sessions, 4 assemblies, 16 stakeholders roundtables, 10 policy dialogues, 22 special sessions, 3 urban talks, an urban journalism academy, 59 village projects and over 460 side, networking, training and parallel events were organised by various stakeholders

Conference of the Parties (COP)21 (Paris, France)

(30 November to 11 December 2015)

COP21 Logo

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) negotiated a new international agreement on tackling greenhouse gas emissions from 2020.  Over 190 countries signed up to this legally bidning agreeement.

This critically important climate conference (Conference of the Parties (COP 21), took place in Paris, France from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The aim is for a more updated and legally binding version of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – the international treaty that commits signed-up countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This new international agreement aims for a minimum increase in global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius and a maximum of 2 degree Celsius. It also advocates for a reduction in carbon emissions which includes low-carbon societies that can adapt to climate change, and other reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

For the latest information see:

Sustainable Development Goals

On 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and a new set of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in new York, USA. The SDGs were also adopted by countries, including the UK, at Habitat III in 2016.


These 17 SDGs aim to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030 and these replace the former Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were introduced in 2000.  It is hoped that implementation of the new SDGs, with a broader sustainability agenda, will go further than the MDGs, by addressing the root causes of poverty and development that works for everyone. 

RTPI Contributions