Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Maimuna Moh’d Sharif, in a response to a story by Kenya’s Star newspaper, has allayed the fears that the agency might be split and some of the functions at the global headquarters in Nairobi be taken away to New York and the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In a press statement on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, the Executive Director explained that the General Assembly had, in December 2017, adopted a resolution on strengthening UN-Habitat. The resolution reaffirmed the role and expertise of UN-Habitat, given its role within the UN system as a focal point on sustainable urbanisation and human settlements, including in the implementation, follow-up and review of the New Urban Agenda, in collaboration with other UN entities.
She added that, to strengthen UN-Habitat, the General Assembly requested the Chair of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to establish an open-ended working group in Nairobi to examine different options of strengthening Member States’ oversight of UN-Habitat that would enable the agency to enhance its effectiveness, efficiency and accountability in supporting countries to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.
“The General Assembly also reiterated the importance of Nairobi headquarters location of UN-Habitat and requested the Secretary-General to keep the resource needs of UN-Habitat under review with a view to improving its efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability in supporting the implementation of its mandate,” said the statement.
To complement the work of the open-ended working group, Sharif, who was recently appointed the head of UN-Habitat, has reportedly embarked on efforts to strengthen UN body internally in ways that will build trust, to improve further good governance in terms of competency, accountability, transparency, efficiency, effectiveness and credibility.
“This will increase the impact and scale of UN-Habitat’s work in building a better quality of life for everyone in cities and other human settlements and in mobilising resources to facilitate this work, in line with the New Urban Agenda and achievement of sustainable development goals,” the statement added.
Ms. Maimuna said that, with the commitment at the level of Member States and the Executive Director, UN-Habitat had embarked on a new phase of work and welcomes strategic partners to join hands in ensuring that no one and no place is left behind in the common goal of achieving sustainable development in all cities and human settlements.
What this means, she said, was that UN-Habitat would continue to discharge its mandate from its Nairobi headquarters as a focal point in the UN system for human settlement issues including urbanisation.
“As I stated at my well attended maiden press conference last Thursday, UN-Habitat and our sister agency UNEP are the only UN agencies headquartered in the developing world. We are in Kenya for the long haul. I have made my commitment to the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Monica Juma and the CS of Infrastructure James Macharia that UN-Habitat is ready to offer its expertise to support the government to achieve its Big Four agenda, in particular, the one of availing one million houses to low income groups,” she said.