1st Edition

The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda

By Un Habitat Copyright 2018
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    The future is urban. Indeed, the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost in cities. Not a moment too soon, then, that urbanization is suddenly at the centre of global policy making. In 2015 the governments of the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in 2016 they adopted the New Urban Agenda. However, the question of how these Agendas will be pursued concretely remains. Unfortunately, the prevailing model is rigidly technocratic Charter of Athens from 1933—the strict functionalist separation of activities that it prescribes still dominates planning practices worldwide.

    The purpose of The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda is to start a discussion that both challenges this status quo and opens up new lines of enquiry. It intentionally does not propose a manifesto made up of simplistic slogans and recommendations as cities in the 21st century are more fragile and complex. Its content, therefore, is intentionally broad, ranging from architecture, planning and urban design, to land ownership and regulation, water management and environmental philosophy. This multifaceted assembly of perspectives critiques the tenets of the Charter of Athens, identify new trends and propose new insights on contemporary urbanization.

    Part One outlines the overall challenges facing cities in the 21st century and Part Two offers a number of conceptual frameworks and approaches for dealing with those challenges. Each Part is also composed of a body of illustrated arguments, synthesized from selectively-abridged background papers from over 15 commissioned authors, interspersed with in-depth papers.

    Preface: Why The Quito Papers?

    Richard Sennett and Ricky Burdett


    Joan Clos

    1. Forces Shaping 21st Century Urbanization


    The Universe of Cities

    1.1: Growing differences in population dynamics require focus and speed-differentiated approaches to good urbanization

    1.2: A massive loss of habitat is accelerating and driving new flows of migration

    1.3: Large-scale urban land acquisitions could de-urbanize cities and undermine public control

    1.4: Lack of access to water and the risks caused by an excess of water require a rethinking on the place and shape of future urbanization

    1.5: If democracy is to survive it will have to resist internal populism and embrace external cooperation

    Who Owns the City?

    Saskia Sassen

    2. The Science of Urbanization and the Open City


    2.1: Good urbanization requires a three decade time horizon, a focus on value creation, capture and sharing and a compact between all levels of government

    2.2: Open-system thinking and designing allow cities to evolve and change

    2.3: Contemporary urbanism provides the opportunity to set aside the blank slate for an ethic of cohabitation

    2.4: Planning and design should operate at both metropolitan and neighbourhood scales and provide adaptable interventions that bridge social inequalities

    2.5: UN-Habitat’s Sample of Cities shows that contemporary patterns of urbanization can reap greater benefits

    2.6: Integrative networks combine government- and self-led approaches and expand the right to the city

    2.7: Commons can compensate for public/private deficiencies if they achieve sufficiently large-scale application in cities

    2.8: Planning without democracy or democracy without planning? How cities might have it both ways

    The Open City

    Richard Sennett

    On Redistribution Policies and their Impact on Good Urbanization

    Joan Clos

    Contemporary Urbanism

    Ricky Burdett

    A Conversation

    Richard Sennett and Joan Clos


    Richard Sennett, Professor of Humanities, New York University, Professor of Sociology, The London School of Economics and Political Science


    Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age project


    Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University


    Joan Clos, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

    The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda is an anti-manifesto manifesto in that it confronts innate urban complexity and open-endedness, whilst holding on to a resolute belief in the power of thoughtful design as a passageway to generative urbanism. This book is a masterclass in how to provoke, animate, and curate persuasive arguments to dismantle moronic urban templates that are all too prevalent in favour of contextual invention. It is an indispensable read for urban activists, scientists, creatives, leaders, and of course, argumentative citizens.’

    Professor Edgar Pieterse, director of the African Centre for Cities, UCT

    ‘UN Habitat’s richly -illustrated, refreshing, thought-provoking collection, with contributions from Richard Sennett, Ricky Burdett, Saskia Sassen and Joan Clos, lays a strong foundation for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. It's a must-read for the world’s citizens.’
    Eugénie L. Birch FAICP, Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research, University of Pennsylvania and co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research

    The Quito Papers is a critical contribution to the New Urban Agenda. It provides a thought-provoking review of the challenges facing urbanization in the 21st century and it makes a powerful case for how planning and design at multiple scales can create a more ‘open city’, hopefully putting to rest the flawed master planning logic of the 20th century. It is a must read for urban leaders and policy makers.’

    Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito