Skip to main content

Guest blog by Aashish Khullar: Implementing and Monitoring the New Urban Agenda - Comprehensive Role for Major Groups and Other Stakeholders

Aashish Khullar  is one of the Organising Partners' of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY). It is the formal engagement mechanism for young people to engage in UN processes. He focuses on  the intersection of environmental and economic variables.

The New Urban Agenda (NUA) has been finalised and we are moving closer to the Habitat III Conference in Quito (17-20 October 2016), where it will be formally adopted by member states.


Thematic progress aside, the NUA galvanises an engaged and effective role for stakeholder participation in its means of implementation (MOI) and follow up and review provisions (FuR).  This is a progressive continuation of the General Assembly resolutions 70/210 and 67/290 that set forth the modalities for the Habitat III process.

The NUA, specifically, in paragraph 128 requires the UN system to closely collaborate with major groups and other stakeholders ‘to generate evidence-based and practical guidance’ to implement the NUA. In addition, paragraph 162 in follow up and review gives a proactive mandate to major groups and other stakeholders to contribute to member state reviews of the NUA.

By doing so through member state consensus on operative clauses, the NUA specifically enshrines and reinforces the institutional role of Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGoS) in the next steps of the NUA.
Refresher on MGoS

Originally created through Agenda 21 in 1992 and subsequently legislated through several unanimous General Assembly resolutions, this engagement modality carves out designated spaces for diverse stakeholders in the form of formal seats and participation in process-related proceedings for critical segments of society, including rights-holders groups, indigenous peoples, local authorities, the private sector and others, as opposed to a general platform that gravitates towards an artificial consensus, potentially drowning out poorly resourced constituencies and marginalized groups.

Originally identifying nine constituencies, the MGoS now is the broadest and the most self organised engagement mechanism in the UN system in the context of intergovernmental processes, and is, above all, protected through unanimous resolutions and operative clauses.
The mechanism currently includes 16 distinct constituencies, and also allocates spaces to regional groups, and focused constituencies specifically engaged in the particular processes. In addition, special space is kept open for constituencies and mechanisms from related UN frameworks (Financing for Development, Disaster Risk Reduction, World Humanitarian Summit, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Small Island Developing States. etc).  Notably, all of these MGoS have guidelines for comprehensive governance, accountability and transparency reporting formally submitted to their own constituencies and the UN, with a rotating facilitators structure.

The MGoS regularly contribute to negotiations, take part in agenda setting, inform the science policy interface, engage in partnerships, report on their implementation, and even formally present shadow reports and critiques of countries’ review of their SDG implementation.

Getting it Done

Calibrating the MGoS to the next phases of the NUA requires some restructuring and retooling of the legacy of stakeholder engagement from the preparatory process. A provisional variant of an MGoS coordination mechanism, also referred to as GAP (General Assembly of Partners), is set to expire in Quito. This mechanism finds a ‘neutral’ non-operative (1) mention in paragraph 128, where the resolution merely ‘notes’ its contributions in the historical process, with no mention of an ongoing role in either implementation or follow up and review.  Any extension of this mechanism or any new platform initiated by the World Urban Campaign or other organization must honor MGoS modalities, as mandated by the member states in the NUA.

In addition, this should also incorporate gaps identified in stakeholder engagement in the Habitat III process, and build on them through operationalizing agreed modalities, and borrowed practices from other processes. Direct access and contributions to negotiation proceedings is one of them.

Building on the lessons - some positive aspects but significant shortcomings - of this experimental mechanism, the MGoS need to implement and operationalize the full scope of its constituencies and range of rights and privileges by creating a new coordination mechanism, similar to what was done for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). The HLPF is the intergovernmental avenue to oversee a network of follow up and review processes, including member state reporting of the implementation of the NUA.

Next concrete steps

To develop a Terms of Reference (ToR) for a new coordination mechanism that reflects engagement in the post-Quito architecture consistent with MGoS modalities and best practices.  This new coordination mechanism will honor the principles of pluralism and diversity (for e.g., it will not expend valuable resources on promulgating consensus proposals/documentation) and mandate transparency and accountability.

Proactively including constituents that have not engaged in the process thus far, including reflecting regional and gender balance and emphasizing regional, national and local levels, and making appropriate linkages with other sustainable development frameworks and regional groupings

Identify best practices and gaps in stakeholder engagement in the Habitat III process, and seek to build on those through formal modalities

Key Elements of the new Terms of Reference:

This should include participation in the progress report of the NUA, the WUF, the 2030 Agenda process and the High Level Political Forum

Replacing the office of an appointed ‘president’ and ‘vice president’ with rotating facilitators from different constituencies

Institute mandatory governance, accountability and transparency mechanisms and reporting in accordance with established best practices and UN guidelines

Create an avenue of information exchange with the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the science policy interface proceedings with the constituencies already engaged in those arenas.

The groundwork for an effective and robust engagement mechanism within the NUA has been set and granted legal protection. It is up to us to seize the moment and bring it to light.


1. See GA decision 55/488 - Meaning of terms “takes note of” and “notes” is neutral and constitutes neither approval nor disapproval.


  1. Thanks! What are the mechanisms of engagement of NGOs at the local level of implementation of NUA, i.e. with local municipalities?

  2. Lego Ladders redundant round tables graphics ooner we stop kidding ourselves about the New Urban Agenda the better, There is Nothing New, There is No teeth to it, No implementation Nothing on Solutions and member Nations/States GAP and all coming together at Quito

  3. elix we await promised post-mortem of Habitat3 hope not lost in tce fe sec-gen elections ..

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Blog Mike Barry: 5 things we learnt on Marks and Spencer Plan A journey over last 12 months

Guest Blog by Mike Barry:  Director of Sustainable Business (Plan A) at Marks and Spencer

It’s that time of year, publication of our annual sustainability (Plan A) report. After the harum scarum dash to gather, collate, assure, sign-off and publish a wealth of data we can breathe (for a moment!) and reflect on what it all means.
Here are some quick insights into what we’ve learnt at M&S in the last 12 months on our Plan A journey.
1. Succession – Nine years is a long time in the world of sustainable business. How many corporate plans have come and gone since we launched Plan A in 2007? Too many! The continuity offered by having a single multi-year plan has been incredibly important. It’s allowed us to take long term decisions in a very short term turbulent retail marketplace. It’s allowed us to build the skills and capabilities in our business units to integrate Plan A into their ways of working. It’s allowed us to pick our battles, knowing that occasionally we’ve just got to let a …

Bokova out? Georgieva in for next UN Secretary General

The rumors that have been circulating for the last month have now proven to be true. The Bulgarian government has withdrawn support from Irina Bokova as their candidate for UN Secretary General and replaced her with Kristalina Georgieva, the European commissioner for budget and human resources.
There is some evidence that the right of center parties in European capitals have been behind this with some articles appearing in the last few weeks against Bokova. The Guardian reported on the 26th: “one of her (Kristalina’s) staff members was hacked and emails purporting to be from one of her top aides were sent out to the rest of her office, instructing them to attack Bokova”There is no question that Kristalina has the cv and record to be a very good UN Secretary General. She is a strong supporter of sustainable development issues she will pick up the SDGs and climate agendas with ease. She is dynamic and very personable and was very active around last week’s UN General Assembly High Level se…

Rest in Peace Tania Valerie Raguz 'one of our own'

Photo by IISD/ENB 
It is with deep sadness that I heard of the passing of Tania Valerie Raguz.

Many of us will have worked with her at United Nations meetings over the past ten years when she was the First Secretary of the Mission of Croatia to the UN.

Tania Valerie Raguz was on the Bureau for Rio+20 and a Vice-Chair Of the Bureau of the seventeenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and  most recently she had joined the world of NGOs working as the Public Affairs Advisor for the World Animal Protection previously know as World Society for the Protection of Animals. WAP had been very active around Rio+20 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and she helped their work particularly around the SDGs.

Tania played her role in helping to frame the agenda that we are all committed to delivering on. CSD17 was one of the more successful CSD and without Rio+20 there would be no Sustainable Development Goals.

Photo by IISD/ENB I will miss her positive energy, laught…