The Government of Norway has extended its support to UN-Habitat for a further two years with a commitment of NOK 108 million, more than USD 19 million.
Norwegian Minister for the Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos © UN-HABITAT/Julius Mwelu
In an agreement signed on Tuesday, by the Minister for the Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, and United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos at UN-Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway pledged NOK 54 million each year between 2012 and 2013.
The specific focus areas earmarked for support are: Advocacy, Monitoring and Partnerships; Promotion of Participatory Urban Planning, Management and Governance; Pro Poor Land and Housing; Environmentally Sound Basic Urban Infrastructure and Services; and Excellence in Management.
An emphasis was also placed on a balance between UN-Habitat's academic research and expertise sharing, such as with its flagship reports on urbanization, the "State of the World's Cities", and solid practical project implementation. One of the specific projects mentioned in the agreement is the very successful Urban Youth Fund (http://www.unhabitat.org/youthfund) which has just opened its call for applications.
"We are delighted to be signing a new cooperation agreement with the Government of Norway who have been our keen supporters for many years," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos. "This contribution will help to fight climate change in emerging cities while supporting vulnerable urban groups such as the youth, women, the unemployed and those living in slums in some of the least developed countries in the world."
Mr. Erik Solheim stressed that "urbanization is one of the defining characteristics of the 21st century. So are the challenges of youth, gender equality and climate. We are supporting UN-Habitat because it is the only global intergovernmental organization that has the potential to provide us with the knowledge and insight to meet these urban challenges in an integrated and holistic manner".
Dr. Clos continued: "The Government of Norway also supports the management review process currently being undertaken at UN-Habitat which aims to increase efficiency, productivity and transparency at the organization. The challenge of rapid urbanization needs a new approach, a new paradigm, focusing on planning, urban employment, economy and legislation and these structural reforms will enable UN-Habitat to put these areas at the heart of its work."