The curtain came down on the 22nd Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT which was described as the most successful ever in the agency’s history.
Some of the highlights of the weeklong meeting included dialogue sessions on affordable housing and climate change; the signing of partnership agreements with six financial institutions that would serve as pilot house financing schemes. Breakthrough resolutions were also passed most significantly being the one calling for governments to support UN-HABITAT’s work on human settlements development in the occupied Palestinian territories.
At the concluding session the President of the Governing Council, Clifford Everald Warmington, the Jamaican Minister of State for water and housing said the Habitat Agenda was extremely relevant in these times of financial turmoil and climate change.
Addressing the last press conference of the Session, Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka thanked the Governing Council for approving the organisation’s budget proposal.
“We requested a total of USD $356 million including a general purpose budget of USD 66 million representing an increase of 32 percent and this is the highest in the history of UN-HABITAT and shows the confidence of the Governing Council in our work,” she said.
In comparison she noted that in 2000 the foundation budget was less than one third of the amount and that in terms of the work programme there was general consensus that Medium Term and Strategic Institutional Programme is being well implemented and that we should continue to our good work in reform.
Other highlights of the week included launches of many other new programmes and initiatives such as the collaboration with Swedish Police on Safer Cities and the nomination of popular Kenyan musician Sara Mitaru as the new Messenger of Truth.
Addressing the participants at the closing ceremony, Mrs. Tibaijuka recalled the ups and downs of the agency and said that it was now on a firm footing and could only go forward. Reflecting on her stewardship of UN-HABITAT for the last eight years, the Executive Director said a lot had been achieved.
“There have been many developments and improvements; we now have well established flagship reports, and our findings and conclusions about urbanization and the slum challenge are beginning to influence the work of other UN agencies and partners, including the press. Thanks to the support from the media we now have regular stories about the real living conditions in slums and the consequences of poorly planned urbanization and poorly managed cities,” she said.
At the closing ceremony, on realizing that this would be the last Governing Council for Mrs. Tibaijuka, the delegates were unanimous in their praise for her leadership. In turn Mrs. Tibaijuka thanked the President of the Governing Council for his leadership.
The meeting attracted a total of 797 delegates from 104 countries, 500 of whom represented national governments. They were joined by 175 representatives of NGOs and 41 representatives of local governments and their associations.