Rapid City Expansion Unsustainable, Delegates Say, Urging Swifter Implementation of New Urban Agenda, as Second Committee Takes Up Human Settlements Programme

Accelerated efforts to address rapid urbanization would be necessary in implementing the New Urban Agenda and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, delegates said today, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat).

All aspects of human development as espoused in the Sustainable Development Goals, especially poverty eradication, sustained economic growth as well as combating climate change, will be realized in cities and rural areas, said Kenya’s representative, adding that the New Urban Agenda was a step in the right direction.

Indonesia’s representative said that the battleground to combat poverty had moved to cities and urban areas. Cities were responsible for 70 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and the almost 2.1 billion people living in them resided in areas highly vulnerable to natural hazards.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Antigua and Barbuda’s representative said most of the Latin American and Caribbean population would live in urban areas by 2030, which was unsustainable and required urgent attention.

An unfortunate feature of rapid urbanization in the Caribbean was the creation of a housing deficit that left a large share of the population living in informal settlements. As a result, those people would be disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding and storm surges.

One sixth of the global population lived in India, and an estimated 377 million of them lived in urban areas, said that country’s representative. At the current rate of growth, the urban population in India was expected to reach 575 million by 2030.

To deal with challenges stemming from that population boom, he said India had launched a national Smart Cities initiative to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for people through local development projects and by harnessing technology.

The representative of Malaysia said the percentage of people living in urban areas in his country had increased to 73 per cent in 2014 and was expected to reach nearly 80 per cent by 2025 and 99 per cent by 2050. In that context, his Government aimed to build 1 million affordable homes by 2018, with 77 per cent of that target already completed.

Embracing low carbon development approaches was also critical, he said, adding that Malaysia had introduced a performance-based system known as the Low Carbon Cities Framework to guide local authorities and developers in making decisions on greener solutions.

Ethiopia’s Integrated Housing Development Programme provided more than 250,000 houses to urban residents, said the representative of that country. The programme had also stimulated employment, especially for women and youth, and decreased the number of slums.

Also speaking today were representatives of Ecuador (for the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Brunei (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Bangladesh (for the Group of Least Developed Countries), China, Philippines, Iran, Russian Federation, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Nepal, Gabon, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Senegal and Malawi. A representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also spoke.

Earlier in the morning, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat introduced two reports, one note by the Secretary-General on the Programme and a summary of the high-level meeting on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The Deputy Executive Director of UN Habitat responded to delegates’ questions after the presentation of the reports.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 20 October, to consider global partnerships.

Presentation of Reports

JOAN CLOS, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), introduced the report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (document A/72/8). He noted that the document described UN Habitat activities including the twenty-sixth session of the Governing Council, an update on the financial situation, a list of all UN Habitat global, regional and thematic activities and an update on the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). During that session, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed had stressed that urbanization must be put at the centre of development efforts and the United Nations system must be reformed to respond more nimbly to the needs of cities. The Deputy Secretary-General had called for greater coherence and collaboration across the United Nations system, noting that UN Habitat’s reform should go hand-in-hand with ensuring there was greater coherence and collaboration across all United Nations system urban work.

Next, he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (document A/72/311). He said Habitat III had the largest participation of civil society, stakeholders and local authorities in the history of United Nations conferences. The level of engagement was seen throughout the Conference, with more than 30,000 representatives and individuals aiming to create a space allowing new partnerships, alliances, networks, synergies and cooperation for implementation of the New Urban Agenda. It also brought together Member States and a diversity of urban actors, especially local authorities, to generate and mobilize support for the New Urban Agenda.

Mr. CLOS next introduced the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (document A/72/360) and the summary of the high-level meeting on the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the positioning of UN-Habitat (document A/72/516). He said projections for UN Habitat’s core income for the biennium 2016 to 2017 stood at $50 million for non-earmarked income and $320 million for earmarked income. As of 31 May 2017, non-earmarked income received and confirmed pledges of $43.4 million, or 87 per cent of the projection, while $265.4 million, or 83 per cent of the projection, had been recorded in earmarked income. UN Habitat continued to implement a strengthened resource mobilization strategy and participation in a system-wide risk treatment working group focused on enhancing income from voluntary extra budgetary contributions. It also continued to control core expenditures through a wide range of measures, which resulted in reducing its deficit from $5.5 million in 2015 to $2.1 million in 2016. He therefore appealed to all States to respond to the needs of the organization and bridge finance for 2017 and 2018.

In terms of activities, he said UN Habitat created a global sample of cities to produce global and regional aggregates of selected indicators, which was instrumental in the preparation of data for the 2016 and 2017 reports of the Secretary-General on the Sustainable Development Goals. At the regional level, the Programme had strengthened the role of its regional offices as interlocutors of regional and subregional bodies in support of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Under the Global Housing Strategy to the Year 2025, it continued to support Governments through the provision of policy advice and technical assistance and published a report titled Trends in Urban Resilience 2017. UN Habitat also pursued the implementation of the City Prosperity Initiative which was furthered in more than 400 cities among other activities.

He urged States to consider providing stronger political and financial support, promote UN Habitat as a focal point for sustainable urbanization and human settlements development, incorporate a robust implementation and monitoring mechanism, ensure that the innovative approach to the Habitat III preparatory process was kept in the report on the implementation on the New Urban Agenda and continue to build partnerships at all levels.

Interactive Discussion

The representative from Nigeria asked about the plans and frameworks that UN Habitat put in place to address poverty, job creation, affordability and decent housing in relation to urbanization, particularly for the young population in Africa. She also asked how African States could produce disaggregated data, given their limited capacities, and accelerate research and development for infrastructural transformation. AISA KIRABO KACYIRA, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat, responded that there was a common African plan to implement the New Urban Agenda. In regards to disaggregated data, UN-Habitat and related agencies developed assessment and monitoring tools that could be utilized in a localized manner. Those tools were already available in Ethiopia, Mexico and Colombia among others. Efforts were underway to increase funding and upscale those tools into other States.

UN-Habitat also supported national reviews to strengthen domestic and regional polices, particularly in relation to urban planning, legislation and urban economies, she continued. More than 20 countries in Africa were registered for that support. She noted that a great part of development took place in the context of crisis and increased migration. Thus, UN Habitat was furthering efforts to address new urban areas created by migration and develop tools for the related challenges.

Responding to the representative from the European Union, who asked about administrative and efficiency modalities to improve the management of UN Habitat, Ms. KACYIRA said the agency remained constrained by its defined role in the United Nations system. While UN Habitat had been created as a research agency, it had since morphed into a hybrid organization that engaged in research and operational activities. Efforts were underway to respond to the development and humanitarian systems within its existing procedures, however UN Habitat often outsourced activities to its sister agencies. She noted that was of particular cost and concern in field-based operations.

ESTEBAN CADENA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that sustainable urban development and human settlements could be key drivers of sustainable development in national and subnational development plans. The New Urban Agenda represented a vision of cities and human settlements characterized by quality of life, equity, sustainable environment and an inclusive economy, recognizing the roles of cities and human settlements as a positive force for achieving sustainable development.

The current United Nations institutional system had reached its exhaustion point, he said, and was insufficient to match the ambition, effectiveness and cohesion required for a comprehensive implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Every possible effort must be made to improve the way the United Nations system addressed human settlement issues.

DATO ABDUL GHAFAR ISMAIL (Brunei), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that sustainable urbanization was a priority. As urban migration continued to accelerate, integrated and coordinated urban planning and management would become increasingly important. ASEAN members were developing and sharing sustainable urbanization strategies within the context of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. Cooperation and coordination was required between and within States, with the involvement of local governments, national agencies and citizens.

Regionally, ASEAN was acutely vulnerable to the risks of climate change and natural hazards, especially in urban low-elevation coastal zones, he said. He appreciated the close cooperation between UN Habitat and ASEAN, within the framework of the ASEAN United Nations Plan of Action for 2016 2020, in the area of environmentally sustainable cities and climate change. He also expressed his appreciation for the support by UN Habitat for the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, which enabled humanitarian coordination in times of crisis.

WILLIAM EDUARDO HERRERA MOLINA (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted the important efforts of some Governments to enshrine ideas from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda into laws and declarations. He welcomed success stories evaluating and approving new habitation, as envisioned in the Urban Agenda. Thanking the High-level Independent Panel to Assess and Enhance the Effectiveness of UN-Habitat for its recommendations, he said he would prefer that it presented more options on building ambitious agreements for the long-term. He recognized the urgent need to reform UN Habitat, but emphasized that such a process should not move too quickly.

Observing that Habitat III was the first important conference in 2016, he said he looked forward to implementation of the New Urban Agenda framework. He reaffirmed his group’s commitments regarding sustainable urban development and welcomed appeals for a conceptual change. The international community should guarantee that the New Urban Agenda was applied under the leave no one behind approach. He recognized that cities and human settlements were cultural centres, where diversity could be expressed by all. Also, cities should be built using a gender approach, including women in all forms of development.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that rapid urbanization in least developed States was driven primarily by urban migration and natural population growth. Fast urbanization in those countries had been accompanied by a growing demand for affordable urban land, housing, water and sanitation, health-care facilities and addressing a wide range of other vulnerabilities and shocks. However, the demand far outpaced supply of available facilities. Urbanization had huge potentials, he added, stressing the need to tap this great potential and focus on ensuring great equitability, economic growth, strengthened social cohesion, improved environmental outcomes and sustainable development.

It was important to anticipate and plan to prevent further slum-forming urban growth with the aim to develop liveable and productive cities and neighbourhoods, he said. In that context, it was vital to increase access to affordable housing, land and house-related infrastructure and basic services while achieving a significant improvement in the lives of millions of slum-dwellers. There was a need to mitigate natural hazards at the city level, as the impacts of disasters were far greater in poorly planned cities. He also highlighted the need for an affordable yet quality public transport system for least developed States. Those countries required a significant amount of financial and technical support.

TUMASIE BLAIR (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said small island developing States faced the overwhelming challenges of rapid urbanization, population growth, the increase of slums, poverty and climate change. It was projected that the majority of the Latin American and Caribbean population would live in urban areas by 2030, which was unsustainable and required urgent attention. An unfortunate feature of the rapid urbanization in the Caribbean was the creation of a housing deficit that had resulted in a large share of the population living in informal settlements disproportionately affected by landslides, flooding and storm surges. A key concern going forward would be putting in place measures to protect homes against rising sea-levels.

Given those challenges, implementation of the goals and provisions of the New Urban Agenda had become all the more critical, he said. Full implementation required an all-inclusive and integrated approach supported by policies that were nationally owned, led and targeted. In addressing challenges facing human settlements, building adequate capacity at regional levels should be given priority. That could be achieved partly through the sharing of experiences, common regional policy formulation and implementation within the context of the Urban Agenda and 2030 Agenda. The promotion of sustainable consumption patterns and production, taking into account the economic and social needs of developing countries, was significant to implementation of the Urban Agenda.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that cities must become the engines of sustainable development instead of dysfunctional chaos and strife. For that to happen, cities must be equipped to meet the basic needs of affordable housing, efficient public transport, safe drinking water and sanitation, waste disposal, affordable and quality schools and hospitals, and employment opportunities. One sixth of the global population lived in India, and an estimated 377 million of his country’s citizens lived in urban areas. At the current rate of growth, India’s urban population was expected to reach a staggering total of 575 million by 2030. To deal with challenges stemming from that boom, India had launched its Smart Cities initiative to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life for people through local development projects and by harnessing technology. For example, municipal bonds had huge potential for fulfilling the massive investment requirement in the urban infrastructure sector. Additionally, to ease pressure on large urban centres, connectivity to smaller cities was being improved with public transport, airports and railways, all focused on attracting businesses.

ARFFIN GADAIT JR. (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to implementing the New Urban Agenda, adding that it would be hosting the Ninth World Urban Forum in February 2018. Describing Malaysia’s rapid growth and evolution, he said the percentage of people living in urban areas had increased to 73 per cent in 2014 and was expected to reach nearly 80 per cent by 2025 and 99 per cent by 2050. In that context, the Government was focused on ensuring that its citizens were engaged and empowered to contribute and participate in planning and development of Malaysia’s cities and urban areas. It aimed to build 1 million affordable homes by 2018, with 77 per cent of that total target already completed. Embracing low carbon development approaches was also critical, he said, adding that Malaysia had introduced a performance-based system known as the Low Carbon Cities Framework to guide local authorities and developers in making decisions on greener solutions.

LU YUHUI (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said developing countries faced numerous obstacles in their efforts to resolve human settlements issues. He called upon the international community to integrate the objectives of the New Urban Agenda into the 2030 Agenda and encouraged developed countries to fund human resources, technology and relief to developing countries. He also encouraged all States to support UN Habitat in its role to promote sustainable urban development worldwide. In that regard, China had enhanced its urban infrastructure development to benefit the living conditions of its people. Urban development remained a key driving force of national development and his Government had launched initiatives to provide public and subsidized housing to poverty-stricken communities.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that the sporadic and unplanned growth of her country’s urban areas had resulted in poor services for managing solid waste, air quality, transportation and other needs of a growing urban population. It had also resulted in social exclusion, as evidenced by the proliferation of informal settlements. Because of those issues, the implementation of the New Urban Agenda was crucial. UN Habitat’s role in that implementation was crucial, and the Philippines supported any plan to make the Programme more fit for purpose.

JAVAD MOMENI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said realizing the transformative commitments set out in the New Urban Agenda would require enabling policy frameworks, integrated participatory planning and management of urban spatial development, complemented by international cooperation and capacity development. Thus, he said it would be very important that the United Nations system take into account the different needs and priorities of developing countries and create a stronger, more efficient UN Habitat. In that regard, Iran had undertaken efforts to bolster its 2025 Vision Document and its sixth national development plan for 2017 to 2021. The Constitution recognized the right to adequate housing. The Ministry of Roads and Urban Development pursued national urban plans and policies and had prepared a comprehensive housing plan. Iran would also host the seventh Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development in 2018.

Ms. NURAN (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that the battleground to combat poverty had moved to cities and urban areas. Cities were responsible for 70 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and almost 2.1 billion people living in cities were in areas that were highly vulnerable to natural disasters. An absence of effective urban planning and negligence regarding the rapid trend in urbanization would affect efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

IAN S. NAUMKIN (Russian Federation) called on the United Nations system to provide support for needy countries in achieving implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The Agenda was the focal point for the United Nations system in promoting sustainable urban settlement. To further bolster the Agenda’s results, UN Habitat must be better staffed and strengthened financially, but not through wasteful parallel mechanisms. The key elements of UN Habitat reform were to strengthen the link between headquarters in Nairobi and the New York liaison office; promote closer cooperation between UN Habitat and United Nations regional commissions; and ensure the voluntary nature of contributions but seek additional donors.

ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria), endorsing the statement by the Group of 77, pointed to the fundamental link between the 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda and peace and security at the global level. The United Nations must improve coordination between various entities in achieving those ambitious development agreements. It must also improve the performance of UN Habitat by finding innovative financing, which would assist in implementation of the New Urban Agenda. She urged the international community to assist Syria in overcoming the effects of conflict on its economic infrastructure. Stressing the difficulties of rebuilding due to unilateral measures imposed against the country, she called for technology transfer to strengthen urban development plans.

Ms. Al SAUD (Saudi Arabia), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that while UN-Habitat should continue to have a main role in providing guidance on urban issues, the issue was also the responsibility of the entire United Nations development system. In that regard, she supported the call to establish an urban settlement sustainability mechanism. As sustainable urban development, cities and human settlements were essential in supporting an enabling environment for all sustainable development fields, the New Urban Agenda should be implemented through evidence-based policies, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. To that end, Saudi Arabia would continue to collaborate with UN Habitat, the private sector, civil society and the academic community.

ALESSANDRO PINTO DAMIANI (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the international community must bridge imbalances, including access to housing for the most vulnerable. Since 1999, Venezuela considered housing a constitutional right and therefore guaranteed a social policy for the provision, purchase and extension of housing. Efforts included the development and financing of housing. Those projects resulted in the construction of 1.8 million houses. Similarly, he stressed the importance of international cooperation and commitments to promote technology transfer and financing for urban settlements.

YONATHAN GUEBREMEDHIN SIMON (Ethiopia) stressed the need for the international community to effectively implement the New Urban Agenda. Its timely realization would demand a strengthened United Nations development system, especially a reformed UN Habitat, to support Member States in national, sub-national and local endeavours. Ethiopia had already begun implementing the Agenda through its national development plan to address the multiple urban challenges it faced. As urbanization was increasing rapidly, the country had been carrying out integrated urban development programmes at national, regional and city levels to address the housing shortage. More than a 250,000 houses had been built and transferred to urban residents. The programme had reduced the housing problem and had also stimulated employment, especially for women and youth, and decreased the number of slums.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that the New Urban Agenda served as an important tool for policymakers. For its part, the United Nations had an important role in supporting and assisting sustainable urban development. Thailand’s own economic and social development plan focused on enhancing resilience and strengthening capacity at the community level. Sustainable urbanization must also promote and respect human rights. The Ministry of Transport had enacted laws and regulations aimed at providing basic and accessible facilities for persons with disabilities and older persons. The Government was also working to reduce inequality from concentrated land ownership and was in the process of passing legislation to tackle the problem of land tenure. Moreover, Thailand was implementing a 10 year strategic plan for housing development to provide support for low-income earners, the homeless and people living in informal settlements.

LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal) said his country’s settlement plans, including post-disaster reconstruction, must be comprehensive and forward-looking. High vulnerability to hazards and climate change had taught Nepal the importance of building resilience. It had learned the hard way that the mantra of resilience-building should permeate throughout its national development architecture. The resilience of cities and human settlements, founded on quality infrastructure, and premised on the implementation of integrated, age- and gender-responsive policies, plans and programmes with ecosystem-based approaches, defined the order of the day. Infrastructure should be resource-efficient, but capable of mitigating risks and the impact of hazards. Creating a safe, peaceful and sustainable urban environment also required the upgrading of slums and informal settlements.

JEAN-PIERRE-HEMERY DOUMBENENY NDZIGNA (Gabon), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country undertook a diagnostic study to elaborate on its national urban development strategy for 2020. His country strived to guarantee access to decent housing for all, and thus promoted a sectoral habitat plan that envisaged strong housing and urban development policies. In that regard, Gabon created a national agency for urbanism, established a land management registry, and launched a national lab and a national company for housing construction. His Government also promoted public and private partnerships to facilitate the creation of new cities, as part of its new three-year economic stimulus plan. The country also adopted national guidelines for urban development which supported better land management.

ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that his country was host to UN Habitat’s headquarters. Outlining areas that required immediate and committed action, he said the effective means of implementing the New Urban Agenda must be ensured. All aspects of human development as espoused in the Sustainable Development Goals, especially poverty eradication, sustained economic growth as well as combating climate change, will be realized in cities and rural areas, he said, adding that the Agenda was a step in the right direction in that regard. The Agenda’s optimal implementation would require not only an enabling environment but also the mobilization of financial resources. To augment efforts by Governments, the international community should galvanize financial resources from public and private sources for enhanced capacity-building, technical assistance and technology transfer. Additionally, saving, stabilizing and strengthening UN Habitat would require a financial rescue package from the United Nations, to serve as a stopgap and cushion the agency from imminent collapse. Resource mobilization must also go together with strengthened local and international partnership and collaboration. Africa’s population of 2 billion and its trend towards urbanization presented immense opportunities for such partnerships in developing smart cities across the continent.

MARCELO ALMEIDA CUNHA COSTA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that sustainable cities must be inclusive, affordable, accessible, safe and resilient. Implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the related Sustainable Development Goals depended on the active involvement of multiple stakeholders, particularly of local governments and civil society. He highlighted the work of the High-level Independent Panel whose report focused on the discrepancy between the normative and the operational functions of UN Habitat. Making the Programme stronger and more effective required improving its current structure and governance. However, any possible reform must be subject to specific negotiations that took into account the broader process of repositioning the United Nations development system.

MARGARET EDISON (Nigeria), associating herself with the Group of 77, said urbanization escalated the threat of achieving equitable and sustainable urban development, particularly in developing countries that witnessed rapid population growth. 45 per cent of the global population lived in cities, and if that trend persisted, the figure would double by 2050. Thus, she called for effective frameworks and strategies to create opportunities in the short- and medium-term to provide safe, affordable and inclusive settlements. In that regard, her Government promoted sustainable urban development and addressed urban inequalities through the targeted policies and programmes. Nigeria remained committed to the Abuja Declaration and partnerships with the private sector. To that end, it had increased funding for rural-urban migration to cover the increase in housing needs.

DIEGO ALBERTO DEWAR (Mexico), endorsing the statement made by the Group of 77, noted that the United Nations was in the middle of repositioning its development system, which included reforming UN Habitat. Referring to the recommendations of the High-level Independent Panel, he underscored the need for conceptual change and a more territorial approach. However, the recommendations must be evaluated in the light of experience gained in the United Nations Environment Assembly. Challenges that national authorities for the environment faced were not always the same as those addressing urban development.

Ms. ALSUWAIDI and MAJID MOHAMMAD ABDULRAHMAN MOHAMMAD ALMUTAWA (United Arab Emirates) associated their country with the Group of 77. Noting that 60 per cent of urban zones would be inhabited by young people by 2030, Ms. ALSUWAIDI said that group must be on-board in creating sustainable cities for all. Given that her country had experienced a 300 per cent demographic growth over the past 15 years, its national experience should be shared in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. She encouraged cultural pluralism, peaceful coexistence between urban residents and the inclusion of youth in urban processes. She also called for the promotion of gender equality, inclusive legislation, equal pay in the labour markets and the inclusion of women in administrative councils. Mr. ALMUTAWA said greater emphasis should be placed on renewable energy and efficiency. In that regard, his country developed solar energy resources and focused on green building criteria. Youth participation must be at the heart of the Urban Agenda because that group represented the future and the majority population in urban zones. Noting that his country’s Minister for Youth was a twenty two year old woman, he said that example should be followed in local and national Governments. He also noted that the United Arab Emirates would host the Global Urban Forum in 2020.

Mr. AL GHAREEB (Bahrain) said his country attached great importance to strengthening housing development and was striving to find the best standards of living for its people. His Government had examined the outcome of Habitat III and had adopted several policies for urban development. It had also reviewed Bahrain’s national housing policy in cooperation with UN Habitat and hoped to harmonize and meet the country’s needs as soon as possible. A strategy for the private sector needed to be integrated into the project and medium- and long-term housing programmes were also needed to meet the country’s needs.

Mr. TRAORE (Senegal) associated himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. He appealed to the international community to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda to ensure the positive transformation of the global economy. Noting that his country faced numerous obstacles related to rapid and poorly managed urbanization, he called for the promotion of urban planning and restructuring programmes for land management. Senegal reviewed its national planning and public policy to address the challenges of modern urbanization. He additionally called for the greater support to urban issues, including the development of resilient cities, promotion of energy efficiency and increased financial resources for infrastructure development.

LOT THAUZENI PANSIPADANA DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stressed that sustainable cities and communities were crucial in realizing sustainable development as the world embraced the challenge of rapid urbanization and poverty. His country had strengthened its Department of Urban Development to improve efficiency in implementing human settlements and sustainable city development programmes. A sustainable urban development programme had been prepared to tackle coordination and a holistic approach in implementing those plans. His country had begun formulating a national urban policy, which would promote development of well-governed and sustainable cities. It had also embarked on a subsidy programme for building materials to ensure the poor had access to decent and affordable housing.

ASHRAF EL NOUR, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the growth of cities was overwhelmingly caused by migration. The New Urban Agenda called for the integration of all migrants at the local level and he said there was a consensus to enable all inhabitants, including migrants, to lead dignified and rewarding lives. States agree that migration takes multiple forms, but all migrants are right holders, whether internal or international, voluntary or forced, and regardless of the causes, legal status or length of stay, he said. In that regard, IOM would welcome the reestablishment of the task team for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Current follow-up actions included the promotion of programmatic guidelines on migration management and the organization of the global conference on cities and migration to be held in November. Such actions would contribute to the global compact on migration, to be endorsed by States in 2018.

Ms. KACYIRA spoke in closing to allay concerns regarding the management of and reforms in UN Habitat. She said all efforts related to the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. Noting the high-level reports, she said that normative and research work undertaken by the agency would continue to move forward. The Programme sought to strengthen coordination within the United Nations system and promote partnerships at all levels.

Source: United Nations