Q. 4. How would a National Urban Policy impact urban dwellers in your city, & how could its impact be measured?

March 24, 2017

This discussion is now closed. Thank you for your participation.


  • Claudio Torres Slum Upgrading Consultant, Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch. UN-Habitat
  • Pireh Otieno Human Settlements Officer, Urban Basic Services Branch - UN-Habitat
  • Kulwant Singh Regional Advisor - UN-Habitat
  • Marcus Mayr Urban Planner, Climate Change Planning Unit, UN-Habitat
  • Edmundo Werna Head of Unit at Sectoral Policies Dept. ILO

Q. 4. How would a National Urban Policy impact urban dwellers in your city, & how could its impact be measured?

Establishing a Supportive National, Regional & Local Framework

Question 4: How do you think a national urban policy can impact urban dwellers in your city, and how do you think that impact can be measured?

Please share your ideas and/or examples below.

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Laura Petrella – Discussion Moderator, UN-Habitat from Kenya
Wed, May 4, 2016 at 03.06 pm

Thank you very much to all of you for your valuable contributions to the discussion last week and your feedback on the Habitat III process to-date. 

Among the challenges mentioned were those related to health and diseases in cities, to the risk National Urban Policy (NUP) giving cities an unfunded mandate or top-down prescriptions and finally the environmental and ecological challenges linked to urban expansion.

As for recommendations made during the dialogue, I would like to highlight (1) the opportunity to see health as an agent of urban transformation (and not only a beneficiary of that); (2) the importance of defining greenbelts and adopting an ecological approach to cities and rural areas and finally (3) the possibility to develop NUP indicators from national policies in different sectors. 

Thanks again for your contributions. 

Climate Change Centre Reading
Thu, April 28, 2016 at 08.33 pm

Key Transformation:

I would like to address and stress the need for a Greenbelt definition in the New Urban Agenda.

In the following text I will relay how important cities green belt boundaries are in relation to the very survival of the urban human belt. In context to pollution of air, pollution of water and soil the natural environment has to pay the prize and it only goes faster and faster. Those most in danger are not humans but the natural environment and its natural habitants, the eco itself. Strong but fragile to us on which we very much depend but for our own survival.

To fight climate change and avoid more loss of land The New Urban Agenda need to define and protect our greenbelts in order to keep our cities rural fringe green, compact and resilient. Also to ensure that urban dwellers have access to countryside, with consequent educational and recreational opportunities; and to Protect the unique character of rural communities that might otherwise be absorbed by expanding suburbs. Increasing resource efficiency (on energy, water, waste, land use). Improving air quality and taking care of wastewater in cities together with making cities resilient to flood, heat waves and natural hazards. Stress that: Sustainable and integrated urban development and its management are crucial to the safety and quality of life of our people.

As new system of urban craters will give a new protection and balance to megacities and it’s balancing urban green belts, it might be a missing link between the city and green belt definition. Cooling sinks for urban heat waves and balance micro climates with positive green outcome can generate many health benefits at the same time offer shelter and protection to its area districts.’

Now is the chance to adopt! – Terrritorial: understand cities as a system of relationships between urban and rural areas operating as an urban ecosystem

The Local Plan is a key transformation opportunity to shape and guide development in the city for the next 15-20 years and must include a strong focus on green and blue infrastructure. Protection of the green belt around the area (city, authority, economic, urban, surrounding, catchment, built-up) means there is a pressure on densification in the City Centre and brownfield sites for housing. The Local Plan needs to consider the ecosystems services that green belt, brownfield and urban gardens give in deciding where to build the housing that the city needs.

/Thank you
“Consider climate change in every urban action”

Edward J. Dodson Director from United States
Fri, April 29, 2016 at 01.31 am

The establishment of green belts and urban growth boundaries seem like an excellent way to limit growth and preserve open space. However, a serious downside is the resulting increase in land acqusition costs for development within the affected urban area.

Tue, April 26, 2016 at 07.36 pm

India does not have a National Urban Policy. Several attempts have been made in the past to draft National Urban Policy. In 1992, Town and Country Planning Department of the Government of India prepared a draft National Urban Policy which never got finalized. However, the country does have a National Housing and Habitat Policy; National Urban Transport Policy; National Urban Sanitation Policy. In addition it has several Missions such as National Solar Mission; National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency; National Mission on Sustainable Habitat; National Water Mission; National Mission For Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem; National Mission For A Green India; National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture; National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change. Missions are National Programmes the implementation of which is done by the States but monitored by the Centre. For some of the policies there are Service Level Indicators and Bench Marks which are duly monitored to see the impact on different cities in terms of improving the quality of life and improving the coverage etc. (refer attachment)

Laura Petrella – Discussion Moderator City Planning, Extension and Design Unit from Kenya
Thu, April 28, 2016 at 03.18 pm

Thanks for this contribution. Indeed a national urban policy will be a higher level guiding document. But implementation tools like the Missions in India are also very important and offer clearer monitoring opportunities. Implemention tools should  be discussed together with monitoring and indicators as part of National Urban policy processes.

Edward J. Dodson Director from United States
Mon, April 25, 2016 at 07.52 pm

A national urban policy is highly unlikely to find support here in the United States. The only approach that has promise is the promotion of “best practices” and merit-based revenue sharing by the Federal government. What local and state government officials oppose are unfunded mandates put to them by the Federal government.

Laura Petrella – Discussion Moderator City Planning, Extension and Design Unit from Kenya
Tue, April 26, 2016 at 10.55 am

Hi Dodson, I think it needs to be made clear that National Urban Policies are not ‘prescriptions’ from national government on what cities have to do. They should orient sectoral policies so that they support better local objectives and thay should address national level hindrances to sound urban development.  This dialectic between local and national is even more complex in federal states. State level urban policies migh be another way to address this complexity. maybe examples from other federal states may provide some insights as well.

Thiago Herick de Sa Urban health researcher from Brazil
Mon, April 25, 2016 at 07.42 pm

Hi Laura, very interesting comment. There is sound evidence of the relation between urban policy options and health outcome. Adding to your examples, we could also mention that sustainable transport systems helps preventing obesity and cardiovascular diseases or that clean energy for cooking and heating helps to avoid respiratory diseases. There are many others. The experience in Brazil is not different from that of most countries in the world: there are some interesting initiatives that consider health outcomes as part of an urban policy development process, even though they are usually not explicitly stated. Even less common is the discussion around the role of health (and the health sector) as an agent – and not just beneficiary – of urban transformation. I am not aware of any country or city truly advanced in this respect. Many of the evaluation tools and data I mentioned in my previous message are already available within the health sector.

Laura Petrella – Discussion Moderator City Planning, Extension and Design Unit
Mon, April 25, 2016 at 04.56 pm

Thanks Thiago for bringing the public health perspective into play. We would need to correlate clearly policy options and health outcomes to be able to attribute the improvements of health conditions to the urban policies. Discussions on the role of public spaces and walkability in preventing non-communicable diseases would be relevant, and provision of basic services and the reduction of certain epidemics as well. The most important thing would be that health issues are discussed as part of an urban policy development process. What is the experience in Brazil? Are these 2 dimensions linked explicitly?

Laura Petrella – Discussion Moderator City Planning, Extension and Design Unit
Mon, April 25, 2016 at 04.47 pm

Welcome to the online discussion on the Habitat III process to-date, taking place in parallel with the Open-ended Informal Consultative Meetings this week. I am happy to be moderating this discussion and looking forward to hearing from you. In particular, I’m interested  in the role of  National Urban Policies to create better cities. As an introduction to this topic, I would like to highlight that many countries have embarked in developing National Urban Policies with different objectives and priorities.These are shaped, to a larger extent, by each other’s countries level of urbanization, level of  development, political and idealogical factors.   All, however, recognise the important role of cities and the critical contribution that national policies can make to their development. As we advance towards defining in which way to develop or work with National Urban Policies, measuring their impact is critical. It is both an issue of formulating the right indicators and of designing concrete policies which address measurable aspects of urban quality. I would like to invite contributions on what are the critical elements that can make policies measurable and impactful.

Thiago Herick de Sa Urban health researcher from Brazil
Mon, April 25, 2016 at 03.37 pm

A national urban policy can impact urban dwellers in many ways. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, city where I live, perhaps the largest contribution of a national urban policy (and a subsequent local urban policy) would be in health and wellbeing. Living conditions are precarious for everyone and particularly bad for vulnerable subgroups, such as children, elderly an the poor. As a consequence, mental health problems and non-communicable diseases (obesity, cancer, cardiorespiratory, diabetes) present growing trends, not to mention the emmergent challenges with communicable disease, including dengue and zika. All these are strongly determined by urban living conditions. 

The impact in health and wellbeing can be measured using some existing indicators for which data is already available and methods agreed, such as air pollution minimum accepted levels and housing standards for health. Also worth estimating the impact of national and local urban policies through health and environmental impact assessment tools and modelling techniques, given the challenges of evaluating such complex and large intervention.