As preparations begin for Habitat III (The 3rd UN Conference on Human Settlements) in 2016, it is worth reflecting on the impact of its predecessor, Habitat II in 1996. This paper, published in 1998, considers how the two documents agreed by governments at Habitat II as a guide for action addressed urban poverty. It notes how many commitments were made to address poverty but very little said on how these would be implemented or on the needed changes in the role of international agencies. Government representatives could agree to fine-sounding commitments, knowing that there are no measures to monitor whether they act on them. The paper ends with a question of whether in 2016 we will be listening to another ‘new vision of cities’ fully endorsed by all governments for the elimination of poverty because they did so little to follow up the commitments agreed at Habitat II.
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