NAIROBI 25 May 2019 – A dynamic discussion between UN-Habitat, civil society, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), community organizations and others took place on the sidelines of the first UN-Habitat Assembly.

The Global Stakeholders meeting discussed included equality, slum upgrading, investments, partnerships and inclusivity.

A key issue was how to move away from piecemeal slum upgrading and policies that result in more slums to strategically working with local governments to provide good facilities and services in rural areas to reverse the trend of migration to urban areas. It is estimated that the 1 billion who live in slums and informal settlements will grow to 3 billion by 2050 without more action.

Rose Molokoane, the coordinator of Slum Dwellers International in South Africa brought home her country’s experience in dealing with huge inequality twenty-five years after apartheid was abolished.

Molokaone and her community organization is pushing for inclusion, integration and for those living in informal settlements to be able to own their own homes.

“Our government is talking about integration and everybody moving from the settlements to the city. Can a poor person afford to buy a mansion in the city? We want to create our own informal cities meaning that if we get security of tenure, if we are allowed to build our own houses then we can create our own settlements,“ she said.

UN-Habitat’s Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said the focus of UN-Habitat’s 2020 – 2025 Strategy Plan is reducing poverty and inequality of services in urban and rural areas, improving the urban environment and building capacity to effectively respond to urban crises.

"We want to do less but with focus, create partnerships. Share successes and challenges. Be better. We need to have the capacity to deal with the migration crisis as well as national disasters and violence. UN-Habitat is not a first responder. We go into countries to give technical advise to revitalise and reconstruct"

The UN-Habitat Assembly will run at the UN compound in Nairobi from 27 – 31 May 2019.