The UN-Habitat Assembly renewed its thoughts at the UN Office at Nairobi (UNON), Kenya. Representatives welcomed to regional and national reports, which centred on aims to improve the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and sustainable urban improvement. The Drafting Committee commenced its considerations of draft recommendations.
Two distinct events concentrated on the Gender Forum on Women and the NUA, and the One United Nations Dialogue sequentially.
Statement of the World Urban Forum
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director, reported on the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF) (HSP/HA/1/5 and INF/5), describing it as an inclusive platform supporting the achievement of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She reported on the 2018 WUF, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, noting that it was attended by 24,000 participants from 163 countries, which reflects the importance of the urban agenda. She highlighted the Kuala Lumpur Declaration outcomes, including the need for integrated policy frameworks, strengthened partnerships and innovations. Executive Director Sharif announced that World Habitat Day will be hosted by Cameroon, on October 7th, 2019; and also highlighted that World Cities Day will be hosted by the Russian Federation, in the city of Yekaterinburg, on 31 October 2019. She further welcomed participants to WUF 10 in 2020, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and announced that WUF 11 will take place in Katowice, Poland, in 2022.
The strategic plan of the UN Human Settlements Programme for the period 2020–2025
Executive Director Sharif introduced the draft strategic plan 2020-2025 (HSP/HA/1/7), noting that it provides links to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the NUA. She stressed that the plan is the product of a participatory process and provides opportunities for UN-Habitat to be a thought leader and an agenda-setter in the human settlement discourse. Underscoring opportunities for UN-Habitat to effectively influence policy, she highlighted that the plan contains four mutually reinforcing domains: reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban-rural continuum; enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions; strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; and effective urban crisis prevention and response.
Burundi, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP, shared the African vision regarding urbanization and human settlements. He stressed that well-planned urbanization could contribute to cities’ transformation and structural reform of the economies, and called for strengthening human and institutional capacities. He highlighted relevant work under the African Union (AU) Commission, including monitoring of the implementation of the NUA in Africa and organizing awareness-raising workshops at the sub-regional level.
Delegations welcomed UN-Habitat’s new governance structure, noting that it will facilitate transparency and accountability. Many countries called for additional cooperation with UN-Habitat to accelerate the implementation of national urban agendas.
ETHIOPIA welcomed the work of the AU to achieve the NUA, the 2030 Agenda, and Agenda 2063. VENEZUELA proposed rethinking housing as a social good and not just a market good. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA discussed initiatives using artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology to address urban problems.
ALGERIA highlighted development and geographical challenges in implementing the NUA. IRAQ and SYRIA stressed the negative impacts of war and terrorism. JORDAN called for collective responsibility to address the Syrian crisis and supported urban planning processes which cater to the needs of refugees. PALESTINE stressed challenges associated with occupying authorities that limit any development potential. AFGHANISTAN reported on the roll-out of a “security of tenure” project for one million households, where land parcels will be registered in the names of both wife and husband. GUATEMALA noted national plans to incorporate disaster risk reduction measures in the urban development plan.
UGANDA called for additional focus on secondary market towns and rural growth centres. GERMANY called for elaborating the role of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to avoid an overlap with the mandate of the Executive Board. CHINA proposed a global award for outstanding achievement for a city to be awarded on World Cities Day. TANZANIA, TURKEY, and MYANMAR stressed the importance of sharing experiences and learning from others.
NORWAY underscored the importance of building partnerships with entities better positioned to act at the local level. The US stressed the need to ensure that all stakeholders have a seat at the table as well as the importance of building local capacities for self-reliance.
GERMANY announced a contribution of 200, 000 Euros to the Multi-Donor Trust Fund to finance UN-Habitat’s new governance structure. SRI LANKA pledged to double its annual contribution to UN-Habitat from 2019. JAPAN highlighted that the country supports poverty reduction projects and the improvements in human environments, having contributed USD 120 million over the past five years.
MALI noted the financial resource mobilization challenges related to implementing the NUA. KUWAIT announced a financial contribution of USD 100,000 towards the success of UNHA 1. INDIA committed to continuing its annual contribution to the Trust Fund. NORWAY highlighted the importance of UN-Habitat’s financial independence. NIGERIA and others called for sustainable and predictable funding to support UN-Habitat activities.
ERITREA highlighted that as most of their population still resides in rural areas, the country is embarking on a project to create “semi-urban areas.” NIGER informed delegates that the country is working on new types of cement to bring down the cost of building and promote sustainable development. ISRAEL announced that it would submit its first voluntary national review, in July 2019.