Greetings from Quito

As we mentioned in a previous post,  Commissioners Jennifer Marshall and Nola Kate Seymoar have joined urban leaders from almost 200 countries in Quito, Ecuador this week for Habitat III this week. Commissioner Marshall has provided this recap of her first two days  in Quito.

Day 1

A very rich first day at the Women’s Assembly on Saturday.

Concepcion Lagua
Concepcion Lagua, a textile producer from rural Ecuador, speaking on sustainability and resilience issues facing the people of Ecuador and rural peoples globally.

Jennifer and Nola Kate participated in a breakout session on Environment, Climate Change, and Resilience with women from all corners of the globe. Many common concerns and ideas for addressing them were identified. The following points are relevant to Vancouver:

  1. The importance of gathering real data, evidence, and analysis generated by stakeholders including women and marginalized groups.
  2. Power of partnership with local authorities to influence national and global policy – ie from the ground up. REAL ENGAGEMENT!
  3. The importance of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) directly addressing the climate change agenda particularly in conservation, protection, and restoration as well as adaptation and resiliency.
  4. Critical requirement of including women equally on all levels of engagement, decision making, implementation, and monitoring.
  5. Over 50% of indigenous peoples now reside in cities. There is a sweet spot for productive co-design in the gap between policies and programs for First Nations and program and policies for urban resiliency.
  6. The need for demonstration seed funding is critical to moving forward in a meaningful way. This could be small funds locally administered. We noted that Vancouver is already do much of this. The difference in emphasis within the Women’s Aassembly was in co-design, shared leadership, and equal partnerships between the parties.

Afterwards we held a “Vancouver Assembly” with (former VCPC Executive Director and now UBC SCARP PhD student) Elizabeth Ballantyne and Lindsay Brown over dinner where we discussed the legacy and losses of Habitat I.

Day 2

Nola Kate was honoured to attend the Youth Delegation special luncheon with the Canadian Ambassador, Madame Marianick Tremblay, and the Canadian Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, at the Canadian Embassy in Quito, organized by the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA Canada) youth delegation. Canadian and international youth from the UN Habitat Youth Advisory Board participated in a lively discussion on what youth can add to the implementation of the the NUA and how this power can be effectively engaged.

Nola Kate made the following recommendations:

  1. To empower youth in Canada we need to lower the voting age to 16 or 17. This would be a catalyst for engaging school in real civic education.
  2. Canada is back. We need to prioritize where our efforts as a middle power in the world will have most impact. Within the UN system, support for a reinvigorated UN Habitat would be logical. We are 85% urban and generally our cities are successful.
  3. Focus on preventative programs with high risk youth would be an investment with high return. The fastest growing population in Canada is aboriginals of whom 50% live in cities and are the highest risk group vis avis the social determinants of health.
  4. Programs involving exchanges between youth nationally and internationally have transformative and lasting impact.

Jennifer went to the Museum Guayasamin. This is the home of Ecuador’s most important modern artist who dedicated his art collection—including his own art and astonishing pre-Columbian and colonial art—to the people of Ecuador. It is an amazing place full of the depth of human experience and time.

Art from Museum Guayasamin

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