The Federal Republic of Germany’s Ministry of International Development Cooperation organized a side event at the High-level Political Forum (18 July 2023) that showcased the transformative potential of integrated urban development and sustainable water management for a just transition toward water-secure, climate-resilient and socially equitable cities, while leaving no one behind. In this context, the event will also highlight the importance of equitable participation of vulnerable groups.

It brought together practitioners, high-level speakers from different spheres of governments around the world and the UN system as well as renowned experts from related policy sectors to discuss the challenges and opportunities of inclusive and effective blue urban transformation around the globe.

Key questions for the event

  • How can we accelerate the transformation toward water-secure, climate resilient ecologically sound cities?
  • Which intersectoral and multistakeholder approaches and financial incentives can effectively address rising inequalities and the deterioration of environmental resources as a major obstacle for sustainable urban development and sustainable water management?

Below is the intervention of Joseph Schechla, coordinator of Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition:

“In the localization of the SDG—and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), for that matter—it is important to revive an issue that is omitted from SDG11, and that is forced eviction. This omission is despite the fact that states are otherwise required periodically to report cases of forced eviction within their jurisdiction and their impacts as a matter of treaty obligation.[1] Preventing forced eviction is part of the commitments under the NUA,[2] but is omitted from its Global Urban Monitoring Framework for its implementation.[3]

Why is this important? Well, it is important because we know that, on any case, the practice of forced eviction deepens poverty and sets us back in our SDG endeavors. But is also important as a future consideration. Meanwhile, we do have standards that should not be ignored.[4]

In the context of climate change, we are going to be facing cases where evictions will become necessary. Let’s call them “evacuations.” Applying the applicable standards would prevent them from becoming “forced evictions.” And, therefore, as Madame Maphokga-Moripe[5] mentioned, the urban space is likely to become a theater of conflict if we don’t apply the human rights standards that prevent and prohibit forced evictions.

In the country where I live, the second largest city, Alexandria, will likely not be there in 50 years, and the projections are very dire. I am very concerned how local authorities and cities are going to deal with the associated drainage and other water-management problems like we saw in Durban that affected primarily the slums,[6] in Petrópolis,[7] in Brazil, and even in Bangaluru[8] last year, as real precursors of what is to come.

The preventive and remedial norms related to forced evictions are something to put back on the table and apply the human rights standards that at least would avoid the worst-possible outcomes.

See video on UN webTV at 1:08:50

Concept Note

[1] Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), Guidelines on Treaty-Specific documents to be submitted by States Parties under Articles 16 and 17 of the International Covenant, E/C.12/2008/2, 23 March 2009, para. 54,

[2] New Urban Agenda, A/RES/71/256, paras. 31, 107 and 111, 25 January 2017,

[3] The Global Urban Monitoring Framework (Nairobi: UN Habitat, 2022),

[4] CESCR, General Comment No. 7: The right to adequate housing (art. 11 (1) of the Covenant): Forced evictions, 16 May 1997, paras. 15–16,

[5] Panelist Nchedi Sophia Maphokga-Moripe, Chief Director, Executive, Strategic Partnerships, of the Department of Water and Sanitation.

[6] In Pursuit of Climate Justice Housing and Land Rights Violations in the context of Environmental Hazards and Climate change (Cairo: housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition, 2022), p. 8,

[7] Ibid., pp. 18–19.

[8] Ibid., p. 32.