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Report evaluates urban challenges facing Aotearoa NZ

Report evaluates urban challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand

Managing urbanisation by looking after smaller as well as larger centres, clarifying the political power of local government, and clearly identifying greenhouse gas emission implications of city-based development, are among crucial issues identified in a report on New Zealand produced in time for a United Nations conference this month

Also identified are critical demographic changes, the importance of Māori, the continuing uncertainty of the role of the Resource Management Act, and the need to better account for social complexities in addressing housing and transport challenges.

The United Nations (UN) Habitat III country report, “A State of New Zealand Report – Habitat III” has been published ahead of the United Nations (UN) Habitat III Conference, taking place in Ecuador from 17-20 October.

The report was compiled by a group of over 45 researchers for the UN Conference, which is tasked with producing a document called The New Urban Agenda (NUA), a universal, high-level, global collective vision for the future of cities and human settlements.

The first UN Habitat Conference was held in Vancouver in 1976. At this time the population of New Zealand was 3.1 million, of whom over 2.5 million were living in urban areas. Today New Zealand’s population is 4.4 million with 85 per cent urbanised, and due to increase to 5.5 million by 2038 if current projections are correct.

In the lead up to Habitat III, all UN Member States, including New Zealand, were invited to submit national reports. A group of researchers from the University of Auckland’s UN-Habitat Steering Group initiated the idea for a national collaboration across a wide range of disciplines to produce the State of New Zealand Report.

Key researchers, identified as having the expertise and experience with the issues outlined in the UN Habitat III report template were invited to participate. The national eSocSci network, an online platform connecting social scientists, was used as a tool to connect the researchers nationally and to raise awareness of the project. The University of Auckland Urban Research Network supported the project and funded a researcher to help co-ordinate the report.

The aim of the Report, which is based on the three pillars of sustainability, environmental, social and economic, is to stimulate national debate amongst researchers and academics as well as the wider community, on our urban issues and the future direction we need to take.

An executive summary has been put together by the editors of the Report, addressing the key challenges.

Among the most important findings are:

• Urban areas are not islands onto themselves

• Urban issues affect everyone

• Urban challenges face both small towns and major urban areas

• Sustainable urbanisation means addressing environmental, social and economic issues

• Researchers and academics have a role to play in taking forward the New Urban Agenda which will be agreed at Habitat III in Quito.

To read the full report visit follow the link:


The University of Auckland UN-Habitat Steering Group was set up in 2009 following the signing of a formal partnership with UN-HABITAT in June 19th of that year. This established the University as a member of the Habitat Partner Universities (HPU) Network. This partnership brings together teachers and researchers from seven faculties across the University to work collaboratively with UN-HABITAT and other HPU Universities to promote the social-cultural and environmentally sustainable development of towns and cities in line with what were then the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals which have become the Sustainable Development Goals.

The University of Auckland’s Urban Research Network is a multidisciplinary research hub which draws together a community of urban researchers with specialist expertise from across the University of Auckland. The network aims to connect the knowledge and skill of researchers at University of Auckland with researchers, policy makers and other interested people at other institutions, allied organisations and agencies across New Zealand and internationally.

Engaged Social Sciences Hui Rangahau Tahi (eSocSci) neatly defeats the tyranny of distance and institutional silos by creating a non-partisan online presence for social scientists in New Zealand. eSocSci provides a communications platform for interdisciplinary thematic networks consisting of both academic and public sector researchers and used by over 1,700 members.


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