At last year’s largest urban-focused gathering, the 3rd UN HABITAT Congress, the adopted New Urban Agenda had a few things to say about TOD and coordinated metropolitan land use planning. Most of the sections on sustainable spatial forms were implicitly about TOD, and the document calls specifically for equitable implementations of TOD in Para 114.
Habitat III had broad participation from stakeholders across urban development – governments, designers, planners, civil society leaders – but some noted that private-sector real estate developers were hard to find, which is odd given their outsize role in actually shaping the urban landscape. Lenora Suki of Smart Cities Advisors makes this point in her article, “Housing at the Center but not Real Estate.”
Quotes from New Urban Agenda
The basics: sustainable urban spatial strategies
- Para 51: We commit ourselves to promoting the development of urban spatial frameworks, including urban planning and design instruments that support sustainable management and use of natural resources and land, appropriateness compactness and density, polycentrism and mixed uses, through infill or planned urban extension strategies as applicable, to trigger economies of scale and agglomeration, strengthen food system planning, and enhance resource efficiency, urban resilience and environment sustainability.
- Para 52: We encourage spatial development strategies that take into account, as appropriate, the need to guide urban extension prioritizing urban renewal by planning for the provision of accessible and well-connected infrastructure and services, sustainable population densities, and compact design and integration of new neighbourhoods into the urban fabric, preventing urban sprawl and marginalization.
- Para 98: We will promote integrated urban and territorial planning, including planned urban extensions based on the principles of equitable, efficient and sustainable use of land and natural resources, compactness, polycentrism, appropriate density and connectivity, and multiple use of space, as well as mixed social and economic uses in built-up areas, in order to prevent urban sprawl, reduce mobility challenges and needs and service delivery costs per capita, and harness density and economies of scale and agglomeration, as appropriate.
Specifics on TOD
- Para 114: We will promote access for all to safe, age- and gender-responsive, affordable, accessible and sustainable urban mobility and land and sea transport systems, enabling meaningful participation in social and economic activities in cities and human settlements, by integrating transport and mobility plans into overall urban and territorial plans and promoting a wide range of transport and mobility options, in particular through supporting:
- (a) A significant increase in accessible, safe, efficient, affordable and sustainable infrastructure for public transport, as well as non-motorized options such as walking and cycling, prioritizing them over private motorized transportation;
- (b) Equitable “transit-oriented development” that minimizes the displacement, in particular, of the poor, and features affordable, mixed-income housing and a mix of jobs and services;
- (c) Better and coordinated transport and land-use planning, which would lead to a reduction of travel and transport needs, enhancing connectivity between urban, peri-urban and rural areas, including waterways; and transport and mobility planning, particularly for small island developing States and coastal cities;
- (d) Urban freight planning and logistics concepts that enable efficient access to products and services, minimizing their impact on the environment and on the liveability of the city, and maximizing their contribution to sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth
- Para 115: We will take measures to develop mechanisms and common frameworks at the national, subnational and local levels to evaluate the wider benefits of urban and metropolitan transport schemes, including impacts on the environment, the economy, social cohesion, quality of life, accessibility, road safety, public health and action on climate change, among others.
- Para 116: We will support the development of these mechanisms and frameworks, based on sustainable national urban transport and mobility policies, for sustainable, open and transparent procurement and regulation of transport and mobility services in urban and metropolitan areas, including new technology that enables shared mobility services. We will support the development of clear, transparent and accountable contractual relationships between local governments and transport and mobility service providers, including on data management, which further protect the public interest and individual privacy and define mutual obligations.
- Para 117: We will support better coordination between transport and urban and territorial planning departments, in mutual understanding of planning and policy frameworks, at the national, subnational and local levels, including through sustainable urban and metropolitan transport and mobility plans. We will support subnational and local governments in developing the necessary knowledge and capacity to implement and enforce such plans.
- Para 118: We will encourage national, subnational and local governments to develop and expand financing instruments, enabling them to improve their transport and mobility infrastructure and systems, such as mass rapid-transit systems, integrated transport systems, air and rail systems, and safe, sufficient and adequate pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and technology-based innovations in transport and transit systems to reduce congestion and pollution while improving efficiency, connectivity, accessibility, health and quality of life.