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UN-Habitat Assembly adopts new reform as Nigeria, others pledge $152million


Global city managers from 127 Member States have adopted resolutions as well as Ministerial Declaration at the final session of the first UN-Habitat Assembly that ended last week at the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which will reform urban settlements.

These will help frame the global urbanization agenda in the upcoming years, and become global norms and policies to guide how cities and communities are planned, managed and governed.The five-day gathering, opened by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, had close to 4,000 attendees. Over 100 plenaries and sessions brought together Heads of State and Government, Ministers, mayors business leaders, NGOs and academics.

The UN-Habitat Assembly was established by the United Nations through a resolution endorsed in December 20, 2018.The Assembly is the highest-level decision-making body focused on sustainable urbanization and human settlements which also provides strategic guidance to UN-Habitat in its work.


President of the UN-Habitat Assembly, Ms. Martha Delgado announced at the closing ceremony that delegates adopted guidelines on safer cities and human settlements. They also resolved to promote gender equality and support inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlement and enhance urban-rural linkages for sustainable urbanization and human settlements.

The delegates agreed to enhance capacity-building for the implementation of the new urban agenda and the urban dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as give the UN-Habitat powers to inject new and innovative thinking in the management of cities and urban centres globally.

“With the latest upgrading of the UN-Habitat to an assembly, the UN agency is expected to gather and share best practices into making urban and cities better human settlement areas,” Delgado said. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat executive director, said that the resolutions gave the UN agency a new beginning and a paradigm shift toward enhancing new urban agenda.

“We intend to encourage sustainable urban development in cities globally and look at issues pertaining to climate change, migrants and displaced persons,” Sharif said.She said that the UN agency will continue to attract best ideas from stakeholders in order to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Sharif assured delegates that the UN agency will work very closely with member states and other stakeholders to implement the resolutions agreed at the assembly.

The ministerial declaration noted that the current unprecedented era of increasing urbanization constitutes both a challenge and an opportunity to promote sustainable development.It calls for the promotion of sustainable patterns of consumption and production though various methods including smart technologies, sustainable lifestyles and resource efficiency.

The ministers recognized and fully support the role and expertise of UN-Habitat as a focal point for sustainable urbanisation and human settlements and as a center of excellence and innovation.

Meanwhile, Nigeria and 20 others at the Partnership and Pledging Conference, pledged $152 million in contributions and commitments were announced to finance UN-Habitat’s work, to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.The countries are China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, France, the Gambia, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Zambia.

At the closing session, the UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said they all shared a common drive to improve cities and communities. “The issues that symbolize our common fight and that bring us together, whether it is extreme poverty, inequalities, slums, social exclusion and marginalization, gender-based discrimination, humanitarian crises, conflicts, climate change, or high unemployment, deserve more attention than our differences,” she said.

The next UN-Habitat Assembly will take place in four years’ time from 5 to 9 June 2023.UN-Habitat, said Ms. Mohd Sharif, plans to become a centre of excellence and innovation that “sets the global discourse and agenda on sustainable urban development,” which generates “innovative, specialized and cutting-edge knowledge.”

Praising the work of UN-Habitat, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that cities can no longer be built the way New York or Nairobi were build: new cities must be “built for people, not cars. And we must build cities knowing that they will be on the frontlines of climate-related risks — from rising sea levels to storms. Floating cities can be part of our new arsenal of tools.”

At UN-Habitat’s first Partnership and Pledging Conference at the first UN-Habitat Assembly, over USD 152 million More than 150 partners met on the side-lines of the Assembly. There were pledges from 38 governments, 10 local governments, 32 organizations and 7 companies, demonstrating clear global commitment to UN-Habitat to support cities and communities to achieve the urban dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director outlined her vision and UN-Habitat’s Strategic Plan to enable countries to reduce spatial inequality and poverty, enhance prosperity of cities, strengthen climate change action, improve the urban environment, and mitigate and respond to urban crises. The Plan is firmly grounded in the principles of social inclusion and human rights, women, children, youth, the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups. UN-Habitat will also be a centre of excellence, providing a point of reference on data, norms, standards, legal frameworks, policies, strategies and urban innovation. 


The European Commission, a lead donor to UN-Habitat, represented by Lars Gronvald, confirmed that unlike before, sustainable urbanization is at the forefront of the European Commission’s development strategy. He called for innovative and cross sectoral partnerships to implement the New Urban Agenda.

Costa Rica’s Housing Minister, Irene Campos Gómez, emphasised the importance of regional partnership in achieving sustainable urbanization. Mayor Armand Roland Beouinde from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, highlighted the need for integrated development encompassing security, housing, health, mobility, land security, waste management, environmental protection and equitable access to urban social services.

Providing a different perspective, Microsoft’s Alexandre Pinho, Global Lead for the United Nations at Microsoft, outlined their partnerships with the United Nations and other development actors. He highlighted the role of cities as important hubs of opportunity and where the digital dimension is critical in planning innovative and sustainable urban development. He concluded by saying: “Start with the outcomes and then build the partnerships you need to create larger impact”.


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