Local government takes its place at first UN Habitat Assembly
28 May 2019
Local Government took its place at the First UN Habitat Assembly held at the end of May in Kenya. International guests from across the globe gathered at the UN offices in Nairobi to discuss the theme: Innovation for a better quality of life in cities and communities.
Collective international action
Opening the assembly, Kenya’s President Kenyatta told an audience of representatives from national and local government, civil society, NGOs, academia and business, that the theme of the assembly was both “fitting and timely”, and he stressed the need for collective international actions to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation.
In a video address, UN Secretary-General Mr Antonio Guterres described the moment as a great opportunity, with 60% of the urban infrastructure needed by 2030 yet to be built.
Accelerator for SDGs
CLGF Secretary-General Dr Greg Munro joined with local government colleagues from the Global Task Force; Ms Diana Lopez from UN Habitat and Ms Emilia Saiz from UCLG, to take part in the discussions. He explained: “It was very insightful to hear the thoughts of three powerful women from the Commonwealth on local government and the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator for the local implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).” The comments by Cameroon’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Celestine Ketcha; Mayor of Banjul in the Gambia, Rohey Malick Lowe; and Malaysia’s Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraida Kamaruddin, were well received and formed the basis for further debate. Dr Munro continued: “Local government is both a driving force and an enabler and has a vital role to play in creating communities for the future, and also for the here and now.”
Turning words into action
Attending the opening ceremony were senior representatives from 113 countries, including more than 60 mayors. The UN Habitat Assembly will adopt global norms and policies to guide how cities and communities are planned, managed and governed. Un Habitat Executive-Director Ms Malmunah Mohd Sharif said: “This Assembly will only happen every four years. The world is now watching. We must make sure we turn our words into action to improve the lives of everyone in today’s urbanising world.”
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