NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 – Kenya is among 36 countries elected by acclamation to a newly inaugurated UN-Habitat Executive Board.
Lori Dando from the United States was Thursday picked as the chairperson of the board following its first meeting during which the board adopted its agenda and rules of procedure.
African countries elected to the board alongside Kenya are Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Morocco, Malawi and Angola.
Other countries elected are USA, China, Japan, Canada, France, India, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Poland, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Romania, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay, Sweden, Turkey, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.
The inaugural UN-Habitat Assembly held at the United Nations complex in Gigiri since Monday is scheduled to close on Friday with the adoption of a sessional report later in the evening.
The plenary will also adopt resolutions made during the five-day event that sought to mobilize commitments for the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities.
Also on the agenda of the final plenary session is the selection of a date and provisional agenda for the second session of the UN-Habitat Assembly set to be held in 2023.
Key highlights of the inaugural assembly include a $ 152 million commitment by thirty-eight governments including Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Gambia, Morocco, Senegal and Malawi towards initiatives aimed at reducing spatial inequality, promoting shared prosperity in cities, strengthening climate action, and urban crisis prevention.
The UN-Habitat on Wednesday unveiled a 2020-2025 Strategic Plan valued at $ 1.9 billion while rallying support for the New Urban Agenda, a blueprint born out of the 2016 Quito Declaration which aims at mitigating a projected rapid growth of informal settlements in urban areas where estimates show two thirds of the world’s populations will have migrated to by 2050.
The agency’s projections show about 70 per cent of urban population will be living in informal settlements by 2050 hence the need for concerted efforts to attain targets set under the News Urban Agenda.
UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Sharif said the agency was committed to helping countries eliminated spatial inequality and poverty adding no one and no place should be left behind.
“Innovations in the context of sustainable urban development is defined as the activities and processes of creating and implementing new knowledge and solutions to improve living conditions for all in cities and communities,” Sharif noted during a pledging and commitment session on Wednesday.
“Cities are the physical manifestation of history and culture, and incubators of innovation, industry, technology, entrepreneurship and creativity,” she added.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who opened the assembly on Monday made a strong pitch for the restructuring of urban planning and development to meet a growing housing deficit during a panel discussion with President Salva Kiir (Sudan), and Prime Ministers Frank Bainimarama (Fiji) and Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr (Yemen) on Wednesday.
He said traditional housing models needed to be reviewed to address emerging hurdles derailing the New Urban Agenda.
“The traditional manner in which we’ve focused and moved on with issues on shelter is not able to keep pace with the growing demand of a growing young population. My government is keenly focused on how we can change the manner in which we provide housing,” Kenyatta remarked.