Nairobi, 1 July 2021—The Committee of Permanent Representatives to UN-Habitat (CPR) held its first open ended, high level mid term review meeting over three days in a hybrid format with 75 countries registering to join the session.

The delegates – which included five Ministers and 44 partners - discussed the delivery of the UN-Habitat 2020-2023 Strategic Plan which is grounded in the 2030 Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and is currently at its midpoint.

The Committee of Permanent Representatives of UN-Habitat (CPR) convenes every two years, in an open-ended manner. It is an opportunity for Member States to provide their views, guidance and advisory to help UN-Habitat promote transformative change in cities and human settlements.

Delegates from 13 Member States based in Nairobi were physically present at the meeting at the UN compound in Gigiri which focused much of its time on the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his speech read by the Cabinet Secretary for Lands and Physical Planning Ms. Farida Karoney, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “The Global COVID-19 pandemic has presented new socio-economic dimensions in the management of cities which have been the epicentres of COVID-19. This has caused disruptions in economic and social dimensions, to the urban poor, calling for a complete paradigm shift in approaches to urban governance.

“I am  confident that the dialogue, will come up with pragmatic solutions on how to improve existing programmes, projects and policies in addressing future health crisis and resilience of cities in the emerging post-pandemic scenario.”

In his address, the President of the United Nations General Assembly Mr. Volkan Bozkir, who is on his first official visit to Kenya, said that  COVID-19 had demonstrated the connection between the urban and natural world as well as between the health of the planet and people’s health.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said that UN-Habitat, as the lead UN agency in charge of urbanization and cities, had done much work around combating COVID-19 effects.

“We have shown, and global evidence points clearly, that it is unsustainable urbanization which has magnified the effects of the pandemic. Density is not an inherent risk factor, but inequality, overcrowding, poor access to basic services, and poverty have been directly correlated with higher risk of transmission, illness, and death. We know that even before the pandemic, 75 per cent of cities were becoming more  unequal. The pandemic has thrown a bright light on what we have known, and deepened this divide even further,” she said

Zainab Hawa, Bangura Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) said the meeting highlighted the importance of UN-Habitat’s mandate at a time when cities were at the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.

There was also a Dialogue on the UN-Habitat Report “Cities and Pandemics: Towards a more just, green and healthy future”  which included speeches by Dr. Etienne Krug of the World Health and Prof. Mariana Mazzucato  of University College London who stated that the pandemic had demonstrated how ill-prepared the world was for managing a global health crisis.

The CPR also looked at the progress in the implementation of the decisions and resolutions adopted by the United Nations Habitat Assembly in 2019.