UN-Habitat set for governance reforms after nod by inaugural Assembly

he inaugural session of the UN-Habitat on Friday endorsed transition towards a new governance structure, which lays emphasis on the realignment of the agency’s planning cycles with the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) process under the United Nations framework.

QCPR enables the United Nations’ top representative organ – the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) – to evaluate the effectiveness, impact, efficiency and coherence of UN initiatives.

The revitalisation of the UN-Habitat’s governance structure was among six resolutions and a Ministerial Declaration adopted at the UN-Habitat closing session in Gigiri, Nairobi, after a five-day conference that featured two high-level forums and dozens of side events.

The resolutions and Ministerial Declaration were adopted during the closing plenary session chaired by the Assembly’s President, Martha Delgado.

The plenary also agreed on June 5-9, 2023 as the date for the second session of the UN-Habitat.

The Assembly mandated the newly elected UN-Habitat Executive Board under the leadership of United States representative for the UN Office in Nairobi, Lori Dando, to receive the 2019 report on the agency’s 2014-2019 Strategic Plan.

Kenya among 9 African nations elected to UN-Habitat Executive Board

The Assembly also adopted a resolution approving UN-Habitat’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan presented on Wednesday.

The plan seeks to rally support towards reduced spatial inequality and poverty, enhanced shared prosperity in cities, strengthened climate action and improved urban environment, and effective urban crisis prevention.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Sharif, was directed to submit to the newly constituted Executive Board and the next session of the Assembly due in June 2023, a results framework alongside performance indicators, and an evaluation mechanism to monitor the implementation of the new Strategic Plan.

“The Assembly requests the Executive Director to report annually to Member States [through the Executive Board] on progress achieved in the implementation of the strategic plan and the activities set out in the work programme of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme,” the resolution read in part.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution recommending the development of “United Nations System-Wide Guidelines on Safer Cities and Human Settlements,” which among other things requires the Executive Director to provide the Executive Board with a concept note on the financial costs attached to the New Urban Agenda.

Also adopted by the Assembly is a resolution that seeks to enhance capacity building for the execution of the New Urban Agenda, a 2016 blueprint towards sustainable cities adopted in Quito, Ecuador.
The Assembly also endorsed a resolution mobilizing support for gender equity to support inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements.

“The Assembly recommends that the Executive Director allocate adequate existing resources for the development and implementation of an updated version for the period 2020–2025 of the revised policy and plan for gender equality and the empowerment of women in urban development and human settlements, as an adjunct to the strategic plan for the same period, within the scope of existing resources, and raise additional voluntary resources wherever possible,” the resolution read.

A resolution seeking the promotion of urban-rural linkages for sustainable settlements and urbanization was also adopted unanimously.

The resolution encourages Member States to work on improving transport, electricity, and telecommunication infrastructure in order to foster growth in rural areas.

A 17-point Ministerial Declaration adopted by the Assembly recommended the implementation of place-based innovations to promote the New Urban Agenda.

Kenya among 38 nations pledging $152mn for sustainable urbanisation

Ministers in charge of human settlements in member countries were challenged to undertake measures that will address spatial inequalities and slow down the growth of informal settlements.

The UN-Habitat Assembly rallied some 38 governments to commit $152 million in New Urban Agenda initiatives to address the projected increase in the world’s urban population.

UN forecasts have shown two-thirds of the world’s population will have migrated to urban areas by 2050, with 70 per cent of the people in cities projected to be living in slums.

The UN-Habitat’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan which seeks to address the increase in informal settlements is valued at $1.9 billion.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who opened the assembly on Monday made a strong pitch for the restructuring of urban planning and development to meet a growing housing deficit during a panel discussion with President Salva Kiir (Sudan), and Prime Ministers Frank Bainimarama (Fiji) and Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr (Yemen) on Wednesday.

He said traditional housing models needed to be reviewed to address emerging hurdles derailing the New Urban Agenda.

“The traditional manner in which we’ve focused and moved on with issues on shelter is not able to keep pace with the growing demand of a growing young population. My government is keenly focused on how we can change the manner in which we provide housing,” Kenyatta remarked during a high-level panel discussion on Wednesday.

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