, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – The United Nations General Assembly has elected Joan Clos as the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT to replace long-serving Anna Tibaijuka.
The former Mayor of Barcelona, Joan Clos is expected to begin his tenure on October 18 for a period of four years.
He has a long career in the Spanish Government both at the local and national level. Between 2006 and 2008, he was appointed Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade in President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s cabinet. Prior to this, between 1997 and 2006, Joan Clos served two terms as Mayor of Barcelona. He is currently Spain´s Ambassador to the Republics of Turkey and Azerbaijan.
On hearing the news, Joan Clos said he was honored to have been elected by the UN General Assembly and thanked the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon for nominating him.
"I am deeply committed to my new task and look forward to building on the achievements of my predecessor, Anna Tibaijuka. I am a long time believer in sustainable cities that practice participatory urban governance and which provide shelter and basic services for all," he said.
"With over half of humanity now living in cities we must prioritise both urban poverty reduction and environmental sustainability, especially as there are now almost one billion slum dwellers. Through collaboration and partnership with governments, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and all Habitat Agenda partners, our urban areas can be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. I look forward to making my modest contribution to the future of cities."
Joan Clos succeeds Anna Tibaijuka who has headed UN-HABITAT since it was formed in 2001 to replace the UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS). The agency 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.
She welcomed the General Assembly decision saying, “Joan Clos is a committed advocate of the urban agenda. With his long and illustrious career in local and national government in Spain, he has a wealth of experience in managing urban renewal and development projects,” she said.
“As Mayor of Barcelona he became world famous for the way he turned around the fortunes of the city. Mr Clos was also one of the first people to understand the need to strengthen international institutions and networks to support the work of local authorities everywhere. I can think of no better person to build on what we have achieved so far at UN-HABITAT. He is the perfect choice to meet the future challenges of urbanisation.”