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Event date: October 17-20

The most obscure summit on the US Council on Foreign Relation's 2016 "Seven  Big Summits" calendar may be the most important. In mid-October, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat) will convene for only the third time in forty years. The time is certainly ripe. Back in 1976, when Vancouver hosted Habitat I, only 37.9 percent of the world’s population lived in cities. Today the figure is 54.5 percent and climbing rapidly. This chaotic urbanization has created what some have described as a planet of slums—but it has also opened a world of possibilities, given the historical role that cities have played in creating wealth and improving social welfare. Today’s cities cover only 2 percent of the world’s land surface but generate 70 percent of the world’s GDP, as well as 70 percent of its trash and greenhouse gases.

The goal of Habitat III is to promote urbanization that works both for urban citizens and a warming planet. One concrete outcome should be a network of informal alliances among the world’s major cities so that they can learn from each other and cooperate to solve global problems. A worthy precedent is the C-40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Spearheaded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, this network of scores of cities has become a leading force in the battle against global warming.

The Nuclear Security Summit | UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem | World Humanitarian Summit | Group of Seven Summit | Group of Twenty Summit | Habitat III | Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

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