VCPC heads to Habitat III

The Vancouver City Planning Commission is joining urban leaders from almost 200 countries in Quito Ecuador this month for Habitat III – the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. Commission co-chair Nola Kate Seymoar and Commissioner Jennifer Marshall are going to Habitat III as members of the Canadian delegation to share with the world’s leading urban thinkers and bring back best practices in planning and development to Vancouver.

Habitat began in Vancouver

Vancouver has a special connection to the UN conference on human settlements. The first Habitat was held in Vancouver in 1976 and in addition to the formal meeting of governments, it included a peoples summit with luminaries such as Margaret Mead, Mother Teresa, Barbara Ward, Jane Jacobs, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his 8 year old son Justin, and thousands of Vancouverites. It was an historic turning point in housing and city planning and led to the formation of UN Habitat.

Habitat III, is expecting over 45,000 participants, the broadest participation ever for a UN summit, and will be held Oct. 17- 20. Commissioners will be joining conversations on resilience, sustainability, financing public spaces, social inclusion and participatory planning. Nola Kate Seymoar will be speaking on a panel on ‘Environment, Climate Change and Resilience’ at the Habitat III Women’s Assembly   .

Following Habitat III, the Commission and its partners will be leading the Vancouver discussion on the New Urban Agenda and how its priorities and strategies can be implemented locally. The Commission plans to convene a Local New Urban Agenda Summit in November 2017, marking the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Commission as an advisory body.

Urgent urban issues at top of agenda

The UN conference is of vital importance to those involved in urban planning as Vancouver and cities across the globe face significant challenges created by rapid urban growth. Current demographic trends indicate that four of every five people in the world may be living in an urban area by 2050. Problems of inequality, affordability and environmental degradation have taxed the imaginations of everyone. Habitat III aims to set a global standard of achievement in sustainable urban development that will create cities that are equitable, sustainable and safe.

About the delegation

Dr. Seymoar, the retired president of the International Centre for Sustainable Cities, has worked at all three levels of government, including serving as director general in Environment Canada. She helped organize the World Urban Forum and the World Peace Forum in 2006 in Vancouver and headed a team of writers that produced From Ideas to Action: 70 Actionable Ideas for the World Urban Forum III.

Jennifer Marshall is a Vancouver based architect. Her firm, Urban Arts Architecture, is an award winning practice that specializes in community based cultural, recreation, and education projects.

The VCPC delegation is part of a BC and Canadian delegation.


Contact VCPC Executive Director Yuri Artibise ( to arrange interviews with Nola Kate Seymoar or Jennifer Marshall. More about Habitat III can be found at

About the Vancouver City Planning Commission

The Vancouver City Planning Commission is an advisory body of volunteers appointed by Council with a broad mandate to consider and advise Council on matters relating to the future of Vancouver.

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