By Chris Arsenault RIO DE JANEIRO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - It's the first major summit in 20 years to tackle issues faced by the world's fast-growing cities - rising inequality, expanding slums and unsustainable infrastructure - but can the U.N.'s cities summit this week deliver concrete results? Three analysts who advised U.N. Habitat III on creating a "New Urban Agenda" for cities - the plan and recommendations that will come out of the Oct. 17-20 summit - and a U.N. official involved in organizing the event in Quito, Ecuador, aren't so sure. The stakes are high: the number of people living in cities is expected to rise to 66 percent of the world's population by 2050, up from 54 percent today, according to U.N. figures. That means an extra 2.5 billion people moving into cities, many of them in Africa and Asia, creating an enormous strain on land and infrastructure and with the potential to leave billions of people living in squalor if urbanization isn't well managed. The latest draft of the summit agenda, which world leaders are set to endorse on Oct. 20, aims to address problems facing fast-growing cities: unaffordable housing, a lack of property rights for slum-dwellers, jobs and space for new arrivals. But with 175 pledges lacking specific goals or timelines to support aspirations such as "people-centerd development" and "equally shared opportunities", analysts say it is unlikely the summit will deliver concrete improvements on the ground. "It's easy for governments to sign something that is not enforceable," said Michael Cohen, a former World Bank urban affairs specialist, who has advised U.N. Habitat. "It doesn't have much bite. It talks a lot about commitments but has no dates, places or numbers," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. While acknowledging that conference commitments will be non-binding, U.N. Habitat official Roi Chiti said the meeting would lead to improvements for the world's urban poor. "We are going to find resources for concrete actions and a new approach to urbanization," Chiti told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. AN EFFECTIVE UN? While critics frequently accuse the United Nations of talking a lot without accomplishing much, some global conferences have produced tangible results. In 2000, governments promised to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They largely succeeded in meeting the eight measurable objectives. The number of people living on less than $1.25 per day dropped to 836 million in 2015 from 1.9 billion in 1990. Goals on getting children into primary school, reducing hunger and improving access to water were either met or narrowly missed. UN officials said the MDGs were the "most successful anti-poverty program in history". In December, ministers from 196 countries meeting at climate talks in Paris agreed to curb increases in global temperatures in a deal regarded as a crucial diplomatic victory in international efforts to tackle global warming. In contrast, the Quito conference lacks a clear set of objectives or a timeline for completing them, said Michele Acuto, professor of urban theory at University College London, who has conducted research for U.N. Habitat. Specific goals for improving sanitation or providing housing rights to new migrants are crucial for making the world's cities livable, Acuto said. "Unfortunately, we are moving further away from (measurable goals) rather than closer," Acuto told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The lack of clear objectives is partially due to the nature of a summit on urban affairs, said a senior U.N. official involved in behind the scenes diplomacy to bring government representatives to agree on a draft communique. City governments can't set national policy, so agreeing on enforceable goals requires different levels of government within each U.N. member state to sign on, creating political headaches. "Clearly, urbanization is not well managed in some regions, but it's difficult to make it (the New Urban Agenda) binding," the official told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about the summit. "The recommendations can't be easily adopted in each of the countries." PRIORITIES While Habitat III lacks a clear plan, aid agencies and governments from wealthy countries are expected to pour money into urban development in poor countries following the summit, said Philipp Aerni, a former U.N. official. But it may not be channeled to where it is most needed. Aid money should go to essential infrastructure for growing shanty towns and slums on the periphery of growing cities in the developing world, said Aerni. Rich-world donors, however, are unlikely to be attracted to these sorts of projects as they don't resonate with taxpayers back home, said Aerni, now director of the Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of Zurich. "The urban agenda protects insiders: those who already have property in cities and want to protect it," Aerni said. "It doesn't offer anything to the new arrivals." The last U.N. Habitat conference in 1996 pledged to create "adequate shelter for all" and "sustainable human settlements". Those lofty aims, which also lacked a timeline or clear commitments, have not been met as the number of people living in slums has risen by more than 200 million since 1990. (Reporting by Chris Arsenault; Editing by Jo Griffin and Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
The mogul's latest swimsuit shots have her fans doing some deep-dive detective work
- USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott should be ashamed of himself – and not because of squandering the final seconds off the clock in Cowboys' wild-card playoff loss.
- Yahoo Life
The supermodel, who turns 68 on Feb. 2, appears to be vacationing in the Caribbean.
- Business Insider
A megachurch pastor in Oklahoma apologized for a demonstration during his sermon 'being too extreme and disgusting' when he rubbed spit on a churchgoer's face
Michael Todd, a pastor based in Tulsa, tried to make a point in the sermon, saying "receiving vision from God might get nasty."
- USA TODAY Sports
A hot mic caught Peyton Manning letting fly a profanity Monday night during the ManningCast of the Cardinals-Rams wild-card playoff game.
- Steelers Wire
Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes are planning a jersey swap.
- The Hill
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter is predicting the end of Donald Trump's hegemony in the GOP, saying the former president "is done.""Trump is done," Coulter, a onetime Trump booster turned critic, wrote in an email to The New York Times. "You guys should stop obsessing over him."Coulter's comments came in an article published in the Times on Sunday about the mounting tensions between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) amid speculation of a...
- Atlanta Black Star
Meagan Good took social media by storm on Jan. 16 after the actress shared a three-for-one upload showcasing her slim figure. In the Instagram post, the […]
- USA TODAY
Am I wrong for not letting my sister-in-law, 26, and her four kids (ages 1 to 8) stay at my house for a few days? I need advice on my family drama.
- Vikings Wire
The search is officially underway!
- The Daily Beast
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty ImagesThere was a time when Donald Trump made news with his rallies—when he said things that utterly shocked us. Who could forget the firestorm he started, for example, when he went after Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who knelt during the national anthem in 2017, or earlier that year when he called Barack Obama “the founder of ISIS”?Trump’s performance in Arizona on Saturday night—his first rally in months and his much-hyped chance to respond to the one-year ann
Non-Americans Are Calling Out Things Americans Say That Scream, "I'm An American," And Wow, I Guess I'm Gonna Stop Talking For A While
Fellow Americans, prepare to be roasted.View Entire Post ›
- Washington Football Wire
Ryan Fitzpatrick was in attendance for the Bills' blowout wild-card win over the Patriots Saturday — as a shirtless fan.
- Yahoo Sports
That's one great teammate.
- ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
Sunday’s game between the Eagles and the Buccaneers included a moment during which Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians went after defensive back Andrew Adams, physically. It came after a muffed punt by Philadelphia receiver Jalen Reagor. Arians, in order to keep Adams from drawing a flag for pulling an opponent off the pile, slapped Adams [more]
- The Hill
"Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski mocked former President Trump for sending a statement Monday morning attacking the MSNBC show. "Will 'Morning Joe' be canceled? He and Mika's ratings are very low-they are having an extremely hard time finding an audience to listen to the Fake News they spurn," Trump said in his statement. "Losing them would be very sad-hope it doesn't happen!" Separately, Trump attacked Joy Reid, another...
- Patriots Wire
Bill Belichick had a very simple reasoning for the Patriots' embarrassing playoff loss to the Bills.
- NBC Sports BayArea
Not many people are happier than Stephen A. Smith to see the Cowboys lose Sunday.
- Business Insider
The world's 10 richest men have made so much money during the pandemic that a one-time 99% tax on their gains could pay for all COVID-19 vaccine production and more: Oxfam
Oxfam calculated that the wealth of the world's 10 richest men grew by $15,000 a second — $1.3 billion a day — from March 2020 to November 2021.
- Browns Wire
Three quick cuts and the Browns can almost double their salary cap space. Are they worth it? Depends on how you value the players that would be involved: