Nairobi 22 January 2018—UN-Habitat’s new Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif assumed office on Monday promising to work closely with the agency’s staff in order to achieve its objectives of sustainable urbanisation across the globe.
Ms. Sharif, a Malaysian national, said she was excited with the depth of experience and professionalism existing at UN-Habitat and expressed optimism that the organisation was in a better shape to undertake its mandate. However, she warned that filure to do will mean that other UN agencies would be called upon to step in and carry out UN-Habitat’s work.
Addressing members of staff, senior management offcials from both UN-Habitat and United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) Ms. Maimuna expressed gratitude to the UN Secretary General Mr. António Guterres for honouring her with the appointment.
In her welcome speech, the UNON Director General Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde informed the incoming Executive Director that she was going to be a part of a 3,500 strong UN community in Nairobi. She pledged to support Ms. Mainuma in her new posting.
On her part, UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira informed her incmoming boss that UN-Habitat had a team of dedicated staff spread all over the world with some serving in the most difficult of situations. “The team is dedicated to its work and you will find them good to work with,” she said.
Some of the senior UN-Habitat who turned up at the function included the Secretary to the Governing Council Mr. Chris Mensah, the director of programmes division Mr. Raf Tuts, the director Regional Office for Africa, Mr. Naison Mutizwa -Mangiza and their External Relations Division counterpart Ms. Christine Musisi.
Prior to this appointment, Ms. Sharif was the Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia. In 2011, she was the first woman to be appointed president of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai. As mayor of a local authority, she led the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai to achieve its vision of a “cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to work, live, invest and play”. She is a champion of Gender‐Responsive Participatory Budgeting and Gender Responsive Participatory Planning, integrating gender perspectives into the governance process as a means of mainstreaming gender into budgetary and development policy and planning. During her tenure, the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai was the first Local Authority to implement and achieve six quality‐based management ISO certifications.
Ms. Sharif began her career as a Town Planner at the Municipal Council of Penang Island in 1985. In 2003, she was promoted to Director of Planning and Development, a position she held until November 2009. As Director, she was responsible for the preparation of structure and local plans, and was directly involved in development control of Penang City projects and landscape development. She also led a team for the planning and implementation of the Urban Renewal Projects in George Town. In November 2009, she was entrusted as the first General Manager to establish George Town World Heritage Incorporated and manage the George Town World Heritage Site, which was inscribed by UNESCO in July 2008.
Born in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, on 26 August 1961, Ms. Sharif holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Town Planning Studies from the University of Wales Institutes of Science and Technology, the United Kingdom, and a Master of Science in Planning Studies from the Malaysia Science University. She has received a number of awards, among others by the Penang State Government and International Organisations, such as “Planner of The Year 2014” by the Malaysian Institute of Planners as well as the 2016 Global Human Settlements Outstanding Contribution Award during Habitat III in Quito, for her contribution in sustainable planning in Seberang Perai.