Members of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council on Friday reaffirmed fresh support for the agency at the close of its twenty-first session after passing 10 resolutions aimed at taking the battle against urban poverty closer to slum dwellers than ever before.
UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, said in a closing speech that 911 delegates from 92 countries were joined by 231 representatives of NGOs and 61 representatives of local governments and their associations. Others at the five-day meeting included representatives of other UN bodies, international financial institutions, professional associations, women and youth groups, and the private sector.
The Governing Council meets every two years to set the agency’s work programme and budget.
The governments passed two landmark resolutions. One gives the agency the go-ahead to set up experimental financial mechanisms for pro-poor housing and infrastructure, and the other is a new Medium-term Strategic and Institutional Plan.
“I have said on numerous occasions that these two initiatives are instrumental to the future of UN-HABITAT, and that this Governing Council could well prove to be a watershed. The Medium-term Plan consolidates the gains we have made since UN-HABITAT became a fully-fledged Programme,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said in a closing speech.
On the financial resolution, she said it would provide the means for the agency to strengthen its role as a pre-investment catalyst, for bringing local initiatives in pro-poor housing and infrastructure to scale.
“Engaging in experimental mechanisms for financing pro-poor housing and urban development will, after a 30-year hiatus, enable us to begin to unlock a door that has prevented the majority of the urban poor from realising their full potential and their life-long aspirations for a safe and secure abode
“ I wish to thank those of you who, in the end, had to give us your trust and allow us to experiment and innovate in the elusive field of providing affordable housing to low income people in globalizing, predominantly market economies. I shall promise you this: that working with my dedicated staff, at the end of the day, and God willing, no one will be disappointed that you made this landmark decision,” she said.
Other resolutions included new guidelines on Decentralisation and strengthening of local authorities, Guiding principles for providing basic services, a resolution on Arctic cities, Urban youth development, and the approval of the biennial work programme and budget. She told the closing plenary that too many young |people in today’s urbanising world had no jobs and no voice.
“We will endeavour to support the establishment of the Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-led Development to catalyse dialogue between youth and all spheres of government, to provide the space and strengthen the capacity of youth-owned initiatives in improving their livelihoods,” she said.