Nigeria says it would reject any efforts to weaken the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) through any proposal by any UN Member States to create a parallel entity.
Nigeria stated this position in its statement at the closing plenary segment of the High Level Meeting on Effective Implementation of the New Urban Agenda and Effective Positioning on UN-Habitat.
The statement, which was delivered by Akinremi Bolaji, Minister Plenipotentiary, Nigeria Permanent Mission to the UN, said Nigeria supported Africa’s positions on the UN-Habitat in all aspects.
“Nigeria strongly supports the African position in all aspects, particularly its strong objection to the creation of a parallel entity.
“We recall that the build-up towards this proposal precedes the formation of the Independent Panel.
“During the various Preparatory Committees’ meetings towards Habitat III, an attempt was made to put into the outcome document, a call for the devolving of some of UN-Habitat’s functions.
“This attempt is with the view for the creation of a new city agency, ‘UN Cities’, to be located ostensibly in Europe.
“The attempt was set aside, thanks to the bold and vigorous objections by the Group of 77 plus China with Kenya at the forefront,” Bolaji said.
The Nigerian official noted that when the idea of ‘City Agency’ was rejected, an alternative idea, ‘Decade on Sustainable Urban Development’, was tabled as an outcome of Habitat III.
He said that ‘Decades’ were usually declared with a coordinating leadership and, in some cases, a secretariat like UN Water, which is the Secretariat for the UN Decade on Water, based in Geneva.
According to him, therefore, the proposal for a ‘Decade on Sustainable Urban Development’ seems to have evolved into ‘UN Urban’.
“A ‘Decade on Sustainable Urban Development’ would require a team to coordinate the ‘Decade’ and hence the creation of a secretariat.
“The intention was not to locate the team within UN-Habitat but elsewhere. That secretariat would then function as the nucleus of a City Agency, or ‘UN Cities’ after the end of the ‘Decade’.
“These proposals bear very uncanny and uncomfortable similarity to the current notion of UN-Urban. In other words, the proposal channelled into the Panel has been long in coming.
“It is an idea that was severally rejected over time prior to HABITAT III. This idea which will weaken and not strengthen UN-Habitat had an antecedent in its different incarnations.
“But the objective has been the same all along. Against this background, Nigeria enjoins member states to, as before, not buy into this idea,” Bolaji said.
He said Nigeria had provided consistent and unwavering support to UN-Habitat, consistent with the position of the African Group and the Group of 77 plus China.
“Without being self servicing, it is on record that Nigeria contributed substantially to the Common African Position, preparatory to Habitat lll conference, including hosting the African Regional Meeting in our capital city of Abuja in February 2016.
“It is, therefore, Nigeria’s desire not only to see the actual implementation of the New Urban Agenda but also to see a re-energised UN-Habitat that will serve both developed and developing countries.”
UN-Habitat is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
The twin goals of the Habitat Agenda are adequate shelter for all and the development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanising world.
UN-Habitat maintains its headquarters at the UN Office at Nairobi.