Aid workers brace for an exodus from Mosul as the future of cities is debated in Quito: This week in development news

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers remarks at the opening of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments in Quito, Ecuador. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / U.N.

More than 40,000 people are gathered in Quito, Ecuador, to discuss the future of cities, while aid organizations in Iraq brace for an exodus from Mosul as the government leads an offensive to reclaim the city. This week in development news.

The first residents have begun to flee the Iraqi city of Mosul, as a government-led offensive on the city aims to reclaim it from two years of ISIS control. As of Wednesday evening, 1,900 internally displaced persons had already fled the city, according the U.N., the beginning of what humanitarians say could be an exodus of up to 1 million people. Aid groups have been prepositioning supplies for months, but they say rapid displacement could easily overwhelm preparations. The Iraqi armed forces expect 200,000 people to be displaced in just the first several weeks of the campaign. Aid groups speaking with Devex said they expect IDPs to be displaced for a significant period of time due to ongoing insecurity, lack of services, and a fear of reprisal attacks against civilians by government forces and an array of allied militias. NGOs have only begun to consider how they will address the longer term needs of displaced persons — for example, education and psychosocial support. Iraq is now home to 3.3 million IDPs, many living in temporary camps without fully operational service infrastructure. Devex examines these issues in a piece publishing Friday, so stay tuned.

The future of cities is being debated and discussed this week in Quito, Ecuador, at Habitat III, where nearly 45,000 people from all levels of government, business and civil society are grappling with what rapid urbanization means for development. One of the discussions has centered around so-called new cities, which are megaproject, master-planned cities built in new areas, a phenomenon that is catching on, particularly in developing countries. Habitat III will see the adoption of the New Urban Agenda — a new U.N. framework document for sustainable urbanization — and much of the debate is around how to implement the non-binding agreement. And of course, how to finance the policies it outlines. One form of financing proposed is land value financing, where governments can use the rising property values expected as a result of urban development to help pay for those efforts.

Negotiators signed an environmental accord this week to phase out the use of a chemical used in refrigerators and air conditioners that contributes to global warming. The accord — which is a binding agreement for the roughly 170 countries that signed — was negotiated in Kigali, Rwanda, with much less attention than the Paris climate summit in 2015. But experts say eliminating the harmful hydrofluorocarbons, which trap far more heat than other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, may have a greater impact on limiting global warming. Some scientists predict eliminating the use of HFCs could prevent a 1 degree Fahrenheit temperature rise. The accord — which is extremely specific in how countries must eliminate the use of HFCs — came about after difficult conversations on precise timelines for developed versus developing countries. The ultimate agreement, which was backed by industry representatives as well, allows some of the world’s hottest countries and developing countries more time to comply.

The risk of cholera is spreading in Haiti as work continues to respond to the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, which landed on Oct. 4. The work to provide immediate relief and rebuild destroyed houses, hospitals and sanitation systems is unlikely to abate anytime soon. More than 700,000 people remain in an "extremely difficult situation," David Nabarro, the U.N. special advisor, said during a visit to the hard-hit areas of Les Cayes and Jérémie this past week. And the risk of a cholera outbreak is growing. Funding streams are materializing from the U.N., which so far has issued both a nearly $120 million emergency flash appeal and also announced the launch of a $400 million multi-partner cholera trust fund. Other organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also recently announced grants worth a total of nearly $3 million to CARE and the International Medical Corps. Meanwhile, the immediacy of people's needs is evident. People looted aid convoy trucks during U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recent visit to Haiti, he said, and some people are said to be living in caves. Even as response to Haiti continues, the international community may soon have another natural disaster to contend with as Super Typhoon Haima hit the Philippines Wednesday.

Teen migrants who had been living in the “jungle” refugee camp in Calais, France, began arriving in the U.K. this week. Small groups of several dozen have been escorted across the border as French authorities work to shut down the camp, despite the objections of many charities working with migrants and refugees housed there. A French court rejected the appeal of 11 organizations to postpone the closure this week. The effort to move some unaccompanied teenagers to the U.K. only accounts for a small number of the estimated 1,000 who are thought to live in the Calais Jungle. Devex visited the de facto refugee camp earlier this year: Here’s a look inside.

Join the Devex community and access more in-depth analysis, breaking news and business advice — and a host of other services — on international development, humanitarian aid and global health.

About the author

  • Saldiner adva

    Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.