Report evaluates urban challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand

13 October 2016

Managing urbanisation by looking after smaller as well as larger centres, clarifying the political power of local government, and clearly identifying greenhouse gas emission implications of city-based development, are among crucial issues identified in a report on New Zealand produced in time for a United Nations conference this month. Also identified are critical demographic changes, the importance of Māori, the continuing uncertainty of the role of the Resource Management Act, and the need to better account for social complexities in addressing housing and transport challenges.

The United Nations (UN) Habitat III country report, “A State of New Zealand Report – Habitat III” has been published ahead of the United Nations (UN) Habitat III Conference, taking place in Ecuador from 17-20 October.

The report was compiled by a group of over 45 researchers for the UN Conference, which is tasked with producing a document called The New Urban Agenda (NUA), a universal, high-level, global collective vision for the future of cities and human settlements.

The first UN Habitat Conference was held in Vancouver in 1976. At this time the population of New Zealand was 3.1 million, of whom over 2.5 million were living in urban areas. Today New Zealand’s population is 4.4 million with 85 per cent urbanised, and due to increase to 5.5 million by 2038 if current projections are correct.

In the lead up to Habitat III, all UN Member States, including New Zealand, were invited to submit national reports. A group of researchers from the University of Auckland’s UN-Habitat Steering Group initiated the idea for a national collaboration across a wide range of disciplines to produce the State of New Zealand Report.

Key researchers, identified as having the expertise and experience with the issues outlined in the UN Habitat III report template were invited to participate. The national eSocSci network, an online platform connecting social scientists, was used as a tool to connect the researchers nationally and to raise awareness of the project. The University of Auckland Urban Research Network supported the project and funded a researcher to help co-ordinate the report.

The aim of the Report, which is based on the three pillars of sustainability, environmental, social and economic, is to stimulate national debate amongst researchers and academics as well as the wider community, on our urban issues and the future direction we need to take.

An executive summary has been put together by the editors of the Report, addressing the key challenges.

Among the most important findings are:

·         Urban areas are not islands onto themselves
·         Urban issues affect everyone
·         Urban challenges face both small towns and major urban areas
·         Sustainable urbanisation means addressing environmental, social and economic issues
·         Researchers and academics have a role to play in taking forward the New Urban Agenda which will be agreed at Habitat III in Quito.

To read the full report visit follow the link:

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