Nairobi, 15 November 2021—The Second Session of the UN-Habitat’s Executive Board in 2021 opened with strong calls to step up fundraising activities for the organisation. The meeting of the Executive Board, which comprises 36 Member States elected by the UN-Habitat Assembly, is taking place in a hybrid format over two days.

The meeting was opened by the Chair of the Executive Board and Permanent Representative of Poland to UN-Habitat, Ambassador Marek Rohr-Garztecki. The Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), Ms Zainab Hawa Bangura, welcomed the Executive Board which last met in April online. She congratulated UN-Habitat for successfully achieving its targets in line with the 2021 work programme.

“COVID-19 and the ensuing socio-economic impact continues to affect the bottom line of many countries. The adaptability of UN-Habitat, its COVID-19 response plan and its emergency response plan, executed with the support of UNON, is a clear achievement despite financial constraints and the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” she noted.

In her opening remarks, the President of the UN-Habitat Assembly who is Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hon Martha Delgado said that UN-Habitat required greater support to help reduce poverty and inequality in the world's cities, increase aspects of shared prosperity, preserve peace, and promote a climate change agenda at the city level while promoting respect for human rights and the inclusive agenda.

“The Presidency of the UN-Habitat Assembly, with the support of the Government of Mexico, will work in conjunction with the Office of the Executive Director to raise the funds necessary for the operation and good administration of the Agency in order to help achieve certain stability, financial and the objectives that are so pressing,” she said.

The Principal Secretary of Kenya’s State Department for Housing and Urban Development. Hon Charles Hinga reaffirmed the important role of UN-Habitat in a rapidly urbanizing world. He stressed the need for more predictable funding to allow the organization to achieve its mandate and called for further support from Member States to harness the potential gains of urbanization.

The Principal Secretary called on UN-Habitat to consider scaling up its country operations as part of the COVID-19 recovery phase. He reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to implement the New Urban Agenda and noted that Kenya will host the Africities Summit in Kisumu in May 2022.

The UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif said she had made use of every opportunity at the just concluded UN Climate Conference or COP26 to highlight the importance of the New Urban Agenda and expressed gratitude to the many local governments, professional groups, the private sector and community leaders that continued to support its implementation.

“Please let us strengthen UN-Habitat so that we are better able to help Member States, particularly least developed countries, low income countries and small island developing states, meet the climate challenge. As you know, they have the smallest carbon footprint but are facing the most extreme climate events,” Ms. Sharif said

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.

Following the opening, the Executive Board discussed the financial and administrative matters of UN-Habitat including resource mobilization efforts. They also discussed the progress in the implementation of the strategic plan 2020-2023 and were briefed on the 2022 proposed work programme and budget of UN-Habitat.  The Executive Board elected Switzerland to chair its ad hoc working group on the development of a Stakeholder Engagement Policy.