At the 23rd Governing Council of UN-Habitat, Member States mandated and challenged UN-Habitat to address the issue of public spaces and how these can contribute to sustainable urban development and improved quality of life (Resolution 23/4 on Sustainable Urban Development through Access to Public Spaces). Specifically, they requested UN-Habitat:
- To advance the agenda on place-making and public spaces in a way that will consolidate local and international approaches to creating inclusive cities, enhance the knowledge of UN-Habitat partners and local authorities about place-making, public spaces and the quality of urban life, and facilitate and implement exchange, cooperation and research between partners working in this field;
- To develop a policy approach on the role that public spaces can play in meeting the challenges of our rapidly urbanizing world, to disseminate that policy and its results widely, and to develop a plan for ensuring its application internationally;
- To assist in coordinating UN-Habitat partners in disseminating knowledge to existing sustainable urban development processes at all government levels.
Since 2012, UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Design Branch (UPDB) and Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net) have jointly embarked on the development and implementation of a Global Programme on Public Space, organized around three main areas:
- Partnerships for public space;
- City-wide strategies and pilot/demonstration projects;
- Knowledge management, tools and advocacy.
UN-Habitat is also mobilizing partners to work with cities around the globe in improving the quality, supply and reach of public spaces. A special focus is on cities in Least Developed Countries, and cities with high percentages of their population living in slums and in unprivileged circumstances.