Nairobi, 17 April 2015—The 25th session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat kicked off in Nairobi with calls to use urbanisation as an opportunity to harness the economic potential of cities for growth and development.
Further, there were calls for strengthening of Un-Habitat in order to see it achieve its mandate. In his key note address, President Uhuru Kenyatta called for the strengthening of the UN-Habitat so that it can effectively pursue the mandate to support sustainable urbanisation.
He said the governance processes and financial resources of UN-Habitat need to be improved so that it can play a more active and visible role during a time the African continent is experiencing fast-paced urbanisation.
“UN-Habitat must also be empowered and encouraged to comprehensively engage the private sector whose expectations and investments are doing more to shape the urban space than any other sector, “said the President.
As part of its commitment to support the United Nations, President Kenyatta announced that Kenya will donate 1 million US Dollars to support the UN-Habitat Secretariat.
Part of the donation will be used to organise the upcoming Habitat III conference while the other part will be used to support the work programme of the UN-Habitat.
In his speech, UN-Habitat executive Director Dr. Joan Clos said sustainable urbanisation was vital for addressing some of the major concerns of our time, such as inequity, resource scarcity and climate change.
“To achieve sustainable urbanisation, UN-Habitat advicates for a three pronged approach encompassing robust urban design, firmly and fairly implemented urban regulation and realistic, well managed municipal financing,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Director General of UNON, Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, the United Nations Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon said that the Governing Council was taking place at a time when the relationship between urbanisation and sustainable development was better understood and appreciated.
“Sustainable development would lift millions of people from poverty, and accelerate economic economic growth is huge as demonstrated in recent decades by some of the major emerging economies,” Ban said.
U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said although urbanisation was to blame for the environmental disasters, Governing Council, was an opportune moment to address challenges of urban development.
UNEP is insisting current urban policies should attempt to create bicycle lanes and focus on non-motorised transport that lowers the levels of green-house gas emissions from cars. “UNEP is not just trying to create paths for bicycles to make sure those who want to move do so at lower costs but to create mobility in cities at low carbon,” Steiner said. “The buildings in urban centres should also not worsen the problem. We must make sure that we can move more efficiently.”
Find out more on UN-Habitat's 25th Governing Council here