Habitat III United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development took place in Quito Ecuador from 17th to 20th October, 2016. This conference is a bi-decennial conference and Habitat I was held at Vancouver, Canada in 1976 and Habitat II was held at Istanbul, Turkey in 1996.
More than 35,000 foreign delegates participated in this conference. The Sri Lankan delegation for this conference was led by Deputy Minister of Housing and Construction Mr. Indika Bandaranayake and Chairman of National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) Mr. L.S. Palansuriya and Deputy General Manager of National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) Mr. K.A. Janaka were the other members of the Sri Lankan delegation.
Mr. Rafair Corya, President of the Republic of Ecuador, inaugurated the Habitat III Conference. More than 150 state leaders, ministers and officials addressed the inauguration and the plenary session within the 04 days of this conference and Deputy Minister Mr. Indika Bandaranayake was one of the delegates who spoke at the plenary session.
Mr. Indika Bandaranayake adressing the inaugural session said that:
"After nearly four decades of ethnic conflict and uncertainty, Sri Lanka has embarked on comprehensive development effort throughout the country. The government of His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena has launched a multi-facetted program of balance development. In this envisage program, human settlement and shelter development and especially the management of urban growth have been identifying as key areas of focus. Accordingly, the government is actively promoting urban centers distributed amongst the strategic locations as a development strategy in association with a comprehensive shelter and infrastructure development effort."
"His Excellency the President has declared 2017 as the year of poverty alleviation and the Ministry of Housing and Construction as the Ministry responsible for "Housing the Nation" is in the process of enabling the low income and marginalized rural communities under the "Samata Sevana" national housing program to build their own houses with the family labor, community support and the utilization of their own resources. The program will further expanded towards the alleviation of rural sector poverty through livelihood improvement with the participation of stakeholders involving in related programs and projects. In line with the rural sector housing program, the Ministry is also in the process of developing a housing program targeting the urban slums and shanty communities who are trapped in vicious circle of poverty in addition to the construction of 500,000 for the urban middle income communities through the public private partnership mechanism.
This was the first United Nations global summit after the adaptation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It offered a unique opportunity to discuss the important challenge of how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed, in order to fulfill their roles as drivers of sustainable development, and how they can shape the implementation of the new global development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The New Urban Agenda, along with the formulation of policies, plans and programmes at the local, national, regional, and international levels were taken into consideration with the role of sustainable urbanization as a driver of sustainable development, urban-rural linkages and the interlinkages among the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in promoting stable, prosperous and inclusive societies.