The Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network (LWCCN) together with Micah Global-International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM), the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), and many other evangelical organizations were present at the United Nation’s Habitat III conference to raise an evangelical voice on the world’s urban future. Below is a joint statement on the final agreement that was reached by the world’s governments in Quito, Ecuador on Oct. 20, 2016:
As leading evangelicals engaged in addressing issues of urbanism and integral mission, community development, and creation care we welcome the United Nations New Urban Agenda (NUA) agreed to at the UN Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador on October 20, 2016. As the culmination of a three-year United Nations process involving an historic level of global participation – including participation by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Micah Global-International Society for Urban Mission (ISUM), the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), and others – the NUA provides a strong set of guidelines for building sustainable, just, and livable cities around the world over the next twenty years.
By 2030 the world’s population living in urban areas is expected to double to four billion people, while the urbanized land area will triple. Whether we live in cites, suburbs, or rural areas, how the world’s urban areas are designed, built, and develop over the next 20-30 years will be critical for the wellbeing of billions of people, many living in vulnerable unplanned settlements, or slums.
As evangelical leaders, we commit to bringing the NUA home to the countries where we are represented all around the world, and to play our part in promoting it, in working for its implementation and delivery, and in the months and years ahead to strengthen it in the ways still needed. We also commit to supporting and engaging with other global agreements that likewise promote care for God’s creation and love for our neighbors such as the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.
As a starting point for engaging and implementing the NUA, Dr. Ash Barker, the director of ISUM, and Dr. Chris Elisara, WEA’s director of the Creation Care Task Force, formed the Urban Shalom Project (USP) (http://urbanshalomproject.org). Their first undertaking was to host the Gospel and the Future of Cities Summit for Christian urban leaders at the Seminario Sudamericano in Quito, Ecuador immediately prior to the Habitat III conference. The purpose of the summit was to explore the broad spectrum of pressing urban issues and challenges set before us; consider how to respond from a biblical perspective and as a people of God; and to enter into a critical dialogue with the draft NUA.
“The outcomes of the summit were very encouraging!” reported Dr. Barker. “In 2017 USP will be launching the Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Urban Action statement and campaign. A companion book will be published entitled Urban Shalom and the Cities We Need. And in future years USP plans on hosting various forums and events focused on implementing the Gospel and the Future of Cities: A Call to Urban Action with partners around the world.”
After the summit the leaders formed the WEA-Micah Global/ISUM delegation of stakeholders and participants to the Habitat III conference. There they attended panels, talks, meetings, and networking events. A highlight for the delegation was meeting with other urban leaders from around the world and witnessing the NUA being adopted by all nations on the final day.
We recognize that the NUA is the start, not the end, of the process for building sustainable, just, and livable cities for all. “This is a significant step forward,” says WEA’s Dr. Elisara, “but the most important steps are still before us, namely implementing the NUA. The Christian community around the world needs to be involved, and that is what the USP will be working toward, albeit from a distinctly Christian perspective and means.”
World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Task Force: Dr. Chris Elisara ([email protected]), Director of the WEA Creation Care Task Force
Micah Global-International Society for Urban Mission: Dr. Ashley Barker ([email protected]), Director of ISUM.