(l-r): UN-HABITAT Spokesperson Ana Moreno; UN-HABITAT Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos and UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman.
The Government of India this week said it would increase its funding to UN-HABITAT. The announcement was made after Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos held talks with Kumari Selja, India's Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture.
"The world's population is getting ready to pass the 7 billion mark by the end of this October, and already 50 per cent of people are living in cities. India's urban population too will double in the next 30 years. Urban planning and design thus are key to a sustainable urban future in the medium and longer term," Dr. Clos said in a statement at the end of his visit 23-29 September. As part of this new priority partnership, UN-HABITAT, he said, would strengthen its presence in India through physical presence in New Delhi for enhanced collaboration with the Government of India.
"India is a strategic partner of UN-HABITAT to manage this growth of urban areas and to focus on urban planning and design as a solution for improving our cities," he added.
At a meeting of professionals in Mumbai organized by Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, and the State Government of Maharashtra, Kumari Selja said: "UN-HABITAT can cooperate with India with its expertise and technical know-how in urban planning and design to plan inclusive cities." The Minister added: "UN-HABITAT and the Government of India can jointly work out the best models of urban planning required in the context of India."
Other ways to strengthen collaboration between UN-HABITAT and the Government of India were explored further in talks Dr. Clos held with Mr. Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Urban Development. In coming months, various knowledge exchange initatives will be proposed. It was also agreed to enhance the participation of Indian urban planners in key UN-HABITAT projects.
During his India visit, the UN-HABITAT Executive Director visited New Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Gurgaon. He also met Mr. Arun Maira, Member, Planning Commission of India, to propose closer sharing of UN-HABITAT experiences with the evolving urban policy of the Government of India for the period 2012-2017.
UN-HABITAT has been actively involved in a number of projects in India at the national, state, district and local levels. Over the years, several UN-HABITAT activities have been organized in close collaboration with Government of India, mainly in water and sanitation.