7 April 2020 – The first session of the Executive Board in 2021 opened with more than 250 participants online.

The Executive Board aims to increase the oversight of UN-Habitat’s operations by Member States and to strengthen UN-Habitat’s accountability, transparency and effectiveness. It comprises 36 Member States elected by the UN-Habitat Assembly and convenes two to three times a year.

The participants were welcomed by the Chair of the Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Iran to UN-Habitat.  Mr Jafar Barmaki, The Chair’s remarks were followed by a statement by Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), who outlined the challenges faced due to COVID-19 and the measures put in place by UNON to minimize its impact and ensure business continuity.

The President of the UN-Habitat Assembly,  Ms Martha Delgado, Mexico’s Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights  called on Member States to “consider UN-Habitat as a public good that needs nurturing for the sake of all inhabitants, particularly those in a disadvantaged situation, and who require better housing, adequate transportation, and inclusive spaces.

“In an unsettling scenario caused by the pandemic, we have come face to face with inequality gaps that prevail in our societies. But we are also in front of an opportunity to guide cities into a significant change for more equitable, green, and healthy settlements,” she said

In his welcoming remark,  Mr. Charles Hinga, Kenya’s Principal Secretary for the State Department of Housing and Urban Development said his country was “proud to be associated with the progress and achievements of UN-Habitat and the Executive Board with regard to implementation of the resolutions and decisions of the Habitat Assembly.”

UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif outlined the work undertaken by the agency as part of its response plan during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 is essentially an urban pandemic,” she said. “Our mandate to support sustainable urbanization is more important today than ever. UN-Habitat’s mandate goes beyond building back better and challenges us to address underlying structural problems.”

The Executive Board was briefed  on  UN-Habitat’s three priorities namely adequate, accessible and affordable housing and basic services, addressing the climate crisis and building resilience and localizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Board also heard about the normative and operational work being done by UN-Habitat and projects  in the field as demonstrated by its impact in Lebanon and the COVID -19 response.

The Executive Board discussed the financial situation of UN-Habitat and the draft annual work programme and budget for 2022 which will be further considered at the second session later in year 2021.