The UN said it has not done enough to deliver on urban renewal, stressing the need for UN reform of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to make it responsive to urban development.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed made this known in her opening remarks at a two-day event on ‘New Urban Agenda’.
Mohammed said: “today, we acknowledge that the UN is not delivering sufficiently in cities. And, through our common effort, we will rectify this.
“The proud history of urban work at the UN must be harnessed at this vital time, and the UN must be seen again as the lead convener and catalyser for partners, funders, private sector and civil society organisations to scale up their work in urban areas”.
The meeting would discuss how the ‘New Urban Agenda’ had been implemented since its adoption in October 2016 at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, known as Habitat III.
It would also examine the recommendations put forth by an independent panel reviewing the effectiveness of UN-Habitat.
It would also address the measures contained in the ‘Report of the Secretary General’s Independent Panel to Assess, Enhance Effectiveness of UN-Habitat after Adoption of New Urban Agenda’, which was published at the beginning of August 2017.
The outcome would serve as an input to the General Assembly’s main body dealing with economic and financial issues the – Second Committee- which would consider action to be taken in the light of these recommendations during its forthcoming substantive session this fall.
Mohammed pointed out that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population could be living in urban areas.
While cities are hubs of promise, jobs, technology and economic development, they are also the epicentre of greenhouse gas emissions and many of the challenges of sustainability, she said.
“It is clear that it is in cities where the battle for sustainability will be won or lost,” the Deputy Secretary-General said.
In his remarks, General Assembly President Peter Thomson stressed the importance of capitalizing on the enormous social and economic opportunities provided by mass urbanisation to lift people out of poverty, drive inclusive economic growth, promote equality, strengthen community resilience, and effectively combat climate change.
Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, also addressed the meeting, pointing out the need to enhance the effectiveness of UN-Habitat and the strategic importance of adopting the ‘New Urban Agenda’.
In the Panel’s assessment, the first priority was to save, stabilise and then rapidly strengthen UN-Habitat to equip it for a renewed role based on the ‘2030 Agenda’, adopted in 2015, as well as the ‘New Urban Agenda’.
The panel recommended, among others, that ‘UN Urban’ be established as a coordinating mechanism similar to UN-Water or UN-Energy, as part of system-wide UN reform, with a small secretariat based in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York.