Nairobi, 16 November 2021 -- The Second Session of the UN-Habitat’s Executive Board in 2021, made up of 36 Member States, approved UN-Habitat’s work programme and budget for next year after receiving comprehensive briefings about the organization’s work.
The meeting of the Executive Board, which is elected by the UN-Habitat Assembly and last met online in April, took place over two days in a hybrid format. 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.
The Executive Board meeting was opened on Monday 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, 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 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 then discussed the financial and administrative matters of UN-Habitat including resource mobilization efforts. The Executive Board elected Switzerland to chair its ad hoc working group on the development of a Stakeholder Engagement Policy.
On the second day the Director of UN-Habitat’s Global Solutions Division Rafael Tuts presented Member States with a comprehensive report on normative and operational activities in 2021 including the implementation of subprogrammes, flagship programmes and technical cooperation activities, and an update on the COVID-19 response. He highlighted the localization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), housing rights and policy guidance with focus on Europe, and migration and displacement.
“These three initiatives on integrated normative and operational activities of UN-Habitat can improve quality of life, promote peace, and encourage a greener and more just recovery from the pandemic by harnessing the power of sustainable urban development towards the achievement of the New Urban Agenda and SDGs,” he said.
Executive Board members welcomed the report on UN-Habitat’s work with other UN agencies including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) where they have worked on multi-agency support to UN Country Teams in mainstreaming resource efficiency in the housing, buildings, and construction sector in Burkina Faso and Sri Lanka; on the UN System-Wide Strategy on Sustainable Urbanization on four specific pre-pandemic frontier issues and on the UN Secretary-General's Policy Brief on COVID-19 in an Urban World.
There were also interventions from non-governmental organisations and civil society representatives including Professor Siraj Sait, Co-Chair of UN-Habitat Stakeholder Advisory Group Enterprise (SAGE), who said they appreciated the opportunity to meet regularly with UN-Habitat senior management to discuss flagship projects and domains of change toward enhancing inclusive stakeholder impact.
The Chair of the Advisory Group on Gender Issues (AGGI), Ines Sanchez de Madariaga, called on UN-Habitat to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment mainstreaming in its work.
The Executive Board agreed to hold its next meeting from 29 – 31 March 2022.