Skip to main content

UN Habitat

World Urban Form (WUF) banners.

UN Habitat

UN Habitat is the arm of the United Nations that works on urban issues. Our engagement with UN Habitat has been robust and has been coordinated through the U.S. Department of State Mission to the United Nations. UN Habitat is engaged in numerous projects throughout the world, mostly in poorer countries. USAID is engaged in several projects with UN Habitat, mainly in Afghanistan. UN Habitat also hosts the World Urban Forum, held every two years. It is the world’s largest conference on urban issues. The last WUF was held in Katowice, Poland 26-30 June 2022. HUD sent a small delegation of three staff.

World Urban Forum

The World Urban Forum (WUF) is a conference on urban issues. It was established in 2001 by the Untied States to examine rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change, and policies. WUF is organized and convened by UN-Habitat and is one of the most open gatherings on the international arena for exchanging views and experiences on urban challenges.

The World Urban Forum has 3 objectives:

  • raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public
  • improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development through inclusive open debates, sharing of lessons learned, and the exchange of best practices and good policies; and
  • increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization

The eleventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) took place in Katowice, Poland in 2022. The Twelfth session will be held in Cairo, Egypt in 2024.

For more information visit:

Calvin Jonson, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research, Evaluation and Monitoring, speaks at the World Urban Form.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Calvin Johnson at WUF11

Learn more by expanding the sections below.

IPAD organized and coordinated HUD’s participation in the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 8-13, 2020. HUD led the U.S. delegation to WUF, which included Assistant Secretary Seth Appleton, Deputy Chief of Staff John Coalter Baker, Director of HUD's International Division Cindy Campbell and Program Analyst Katie Marinari.

The theme for WUF 10 was Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation. A non-binding declaration of voluntary actions and commitments for the next two years was released on the last day of WUF10, reiterating the shared aspirational goals to promote urban resilience, to review progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, and to advance people centered policy outcomes.

HUD participated in high-level roundtables, special sessions, side events, and networking events and held a number of bilateral meetings with Ministry counterparts and civil society organizations. The HUD delegation was able to visit the offices of the Abu Dhabi Housing Authority and participate in a site visit to Masdar City, an intentionally planned sustainable urban community.

The World Urban Forum is an excellent venue to foster partnerships and maximize collaboration with international and philanthropic partners, while also supporting the foreign policy objectives of the State Department and White House.

Additional information:
WUF 10 IPAD News
Report of the Tenth Session of the WUF

IPAD organized and coordinated HUD’s participation in the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Feb.7-13. HUD led the U.S. government interagency delegation to WUF, which included 17 people, with 3 from HUD, namely Assistant Secretary Neal Rackleff, PDAS Ralph Gaines, and IPAD Director Cindy Campbell. HUD participated in high-level roundtables, special sessions, side events, and networking events, which provided opportunities to share the work of HUD and to learn from other countries’ approaches, policies, and programs – to bring back applicable best practices and lessons learned to improve the work of HUD.

In addition to the official WUF events, the HUD delegation held a number of bilateral meetings with counterparts from other countries and organizations during the World Urban Forum. These bilateral meeting create another opportunity to build partnerships and foster exchanges of information and best practices, while also supporting the foreign policy objectives of the State Department and White House.

Additional information:
WUF 9 Report
The PD&R Edge Article

HUD, in partnership with the Department of State, is leading U.S. government preparations for Habitat III. HUD is committed to facilitating a dynamic and inclusive preparatory process that engages a diverse set of U.S. government and civil society stakeholders.

Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, that took place October 17 - 20, 2016, in Quito, Ecuador. The UN convened the first Habitat conference in 1976 in Vancouver, sparking an international dialogue on urban issues. Twenty years later, at Habitat II in Istanbul, Turkey, world leaders adopted the Habitat Agenda, a global action plan aimed at providing adequate shelter for all. The Habitat III Conference reinvigorated the global commitment to sustainable urbanization. At Habitat III, participants developed a “New Urban Agenda,” an action-oriented outcome document that addresses 21st Century challenges and harnesses the tremendous potential of cities to promote sustainable development.

Additional information:
New Urban Agenda

In preparation for Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Urban Sustainability, HUD, on behalf of the U.S. government, has prepared 2 reports: The U.S. 20/20 Habitat III Report and the U.S. National Report.

U.S. 20/20 Habitat III Report

This U.S. 20/20 Habitat III Report was prepared to share the U.S. story around housing, community development, and the fostering of inclusive, sustainable, and resilient neighborhoods and communities across the United States over the last 20 years since Habitat II. This report includes a narrative about programs and policies over the past 20 years and includes thought-pieces and reflection on current challenges and future needs by members of the U.S. Habitat III National Committee, in the form of Contributing Essays. The report, including these Contributing Essays, has been structured around 3 main thematic chapters, which were formatted within PD&R with input from the U.S. Habitat III National Committee. These three themes are:

  • Investing in People and Communities for Upward Mobility
  • Securing Housing Options for All
  • Building Resilience in an Era of Change

U.S. National Report

As part of the Habitat III preparatory process, HUD submitted a National Report to the Habitat III Secretariat on April 1, 2015. It was developed in response to a template provided by UN Habitat to facilitate regional and global analysis.

As part of the global process leading up to Habitat III, a number of events were held around the world, including the UN Habitat-convened global regional and thematic meetings and the Urban Thinkers Campuses.

In our U.S. domestic Habitat III preparatory process, two sets of convenings were held across the U.S. – five domestic regional convenings and five foreign policy convenings.

Access a summary of U.S. domestic convenings here.

U.S. Domestic Regional Convenings

HUD has co-hosted a series of 5 domestic convenings across the U.S. in the lead up to Habitat III in order to engage local and regional practitioners in the preparatory process.

Chicago, IL (March 31, 2016)

Philadelphia, PA (May 17, 2016)

Denver, CO (May 20, 2016)

Miami, FL (June 13, 2016)

El Paso, TX (June 23, 2016)

Washington, D.C. (July 11, 2016)

U.S. Habitat III Foreign Policy Convenings

The Connecting the U.S. to Global Conversations Subcommittee co-hosted a series of 5 DC-based sessions to inform and elevate discussion within the international affairs community. The sessions covered topics related to sustainable urban development and aimed to advance U.S. policy for an increasingly urbanized world.

Habitat III & Why Urbanization is Critical to US Foreign Policy (February 22, 2016)

  • Hosts: The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, U.S. Department of State, HUD

Resilient and Sustainable Cities: Bridging From COP21 to Habitat III (March 1, 2016)

  • Agenda
  • Hosts: Wilson Center, Next City, Georgetown University

Localizing the SDGs: How Cities Can Help Achieve the 2030 Agenda (April 25, 2016)

  • Agenda
  • Hosts: USAID, Wilson Center, Urban Institute

Cities in an Age of Insecurity: Building Safe and More Inclusive Cities (June 22, 2016)

  • Agenda
  • Hosts: The Atlantic Council, Wilson Center

After Quito: Implementation of the New Urban Agenda Following Habitat III (July 11, 2016)

  • Agenda
  • Hosts: HUD, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Wilson Center

Beginning in December 2014, HUD, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and other federal agencies convened the U.S. National Committee to prepare for the nation’s involvement in Habitat III. The National Committee is comprised of over 40 organizations representing government agencies, academia, philanthropy, civil society, and the private sector. The National Committee reflects our nation’s commitment to a broad and inclusive approach in our preparations for Habitat III and our contributions to the New Urban Agenda, the outcome document at Habitat III. The National Committee formed three subcommittees to facilitate dynamic and inclusive Habitat preparatory processes:

  • The National Report Subcommittee contributes to and provides feedback on the U.S. 20/20 Habitat III Report prepared by HUD and other federal partners;
  • The Education and Outreach Subcommittee engages communities to advance the public understanding of urban development issues and trends in the U.S.; and,
  • The Connecting the U.S. to Global Conversations Subcommittee raises awareness and engages all levels of U.S. government in a discussion of sustainable urban development, and connects this dialogue to processes leading to Habitat III and to relevant global conversations. The Subcommittee also elevates best practice abroad and highlights U.S. model solutions to urban challenges.
This document summarizes efforts of the U.S. Habitat III National Committee accomplished by each of the three Subcommittees, and seeks to highlight local issues and solutions for elevation abroad by the U.S. Habitat III Negotiating Team and Delegation to Habitat III.