The Habitat III summit of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development took place in Quito, Ecuador from October 17-20, 2016.
Primarily focused on sustainable urbanization, the event also paid significant attention to these so-called urban-rural linkages. A strategy emerged: a consensus declaration called the New Urban Agenda, So how does this new strategy look at the rural end of the spectrum?
Shortly after Habitat III, in December of 2016, India hosted a major conference on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda: the sixth Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development. It brought decision-makers from over 70 countries to New Delhi. The event endorsed the New Urban Agenda, and concluded with the New Delhi Declaration, plus a related action plan called the New Delhi Declaration.
For the most part, the rural component finds mention in the 24-page New Urban Agenda document as part of a compound phrase: “urban-rural”. The agenda doesn’t have a separate vision for rural settlements and rural development, but links the growth of urban development with that of rural areas.
Three elements of this strategy are particularly important to revitalizing India’s rural communities (or at least to mitigating the worst effects of the urbanization trend):
- Territorial and spatial planning: In India and many other developing countries, the urban-rural divide increasingly has been approached through integrated planning and management approaches;
- Improving governance mechanisms: With almost half of all urban settlements still having rural governance structures (known as census towns), a cohesive and cooperative approach between the urban and rural ministries is necessary; and
- Enhancing urban-rural partnerships: This includes creating policy frameworks such as national urban policies and city development strategies that can enable such partnerships.