UN-Habitat and Sri Lanka strengthen cooperationColombo, 5 September 2016 --UN-Habitat last week strengthened its partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Housing and Construction. Mrs. W.K.K Athukorala, Secretary Ministry of Housing and Construction, signed the MoU on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka while Mr. Srinivasa Popuri, Senior Human Settlements Officer, UN-Habitat, Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, signed on behalf of UN-Habitat.

The signing ceremony was held in the presence of Mr.Chanaka Talpahewa, Country Programme Manager and Mr Tim McNair, Chief Technical Advisor of UN-Habitat Sri Lanka along with senior officials from the Ministry of Housing and Construction. UN-Habitat has a long history of cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka dating back to 1978 with the Ministry of Housing and Construction. Major initiatives supported by UN-Habitat include assistance to the preparation of the Master Plan for Colombo, the Government’s Million Houses Programme and community based methodologies for housing.

The signing of the MoU will further strengthen the close collaboration between UN-Habitat and the Government of Sri Lanka. For example, the Ministry of Housing and Construction is currently revising its National Housing Policy with the aim of facilitating access to decent housing for all, supported by UN-Habitat. In her speech, Mrs. Athukorala, stated “today is an important day as it represents another major milestone in our collaboration with UN-Habitat to promote socially and environmentally sustainable settlements with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all”.

Speaking at the function, Mr. Popuri thanked Government of Sri Lanka for the trust and the partnership conferred upon UN-Habitat for the past three decades. He recalled Governemnt of Sri Lanka's pioneering leadership on 'People's Housing' campaign ever since first UN World Conference on Housing and Human Settlements Issues (HABITAT I) in Vancouver, Canada, 1976.

The Senior Human Settlements Officer explained that as the specialized UN agency with a mandate to assist world governments on sustainable urbanization and human settlements work within the UN System, UN-Habitat was strengthening its partnership with Government of Sri Lanka to further assist issues related to housing and urbanization issues in the country. He highlighted the timeliness of signing such MoU between two partners coincides with forthcoming HABITAT III UN's world conference in Quito, Ecuador, where the world leaders are meeting in October 2016 to announce 'Transformative Habitat III agenda for next twenty years'