12 April 2017

Secretary-General Appoints Independent Panel to Assess, Enhance Effectiveness of UN-Habitat after Adoption of New Urban Agenda

The following announcement was made today by UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

We live in the century of unprecedented urban growth.  For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population is living in cities.  This gives special significance to the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which was held last October 2016, in Quito, Ecuador.  Participating States adopted the New Urban Agenda as a collective vision and political commitment to promote and realize sustainable urban development, and a paradigm change, rethinking how cities are planned, managed and inhabited.

As part of the follow-up and review of the Habitat III outcome and in light of the New Urban Agenda and with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the Secretary-General was requested to submit an evidence-based and independent assessment of UN-Habitat to the General Assembly during its seventy-first session.

The independent assessment will contain recommendations on enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and oversight of UN-Habitat.  This report will serve as an input to a two-day high-level meeting of the General Assembly, convened by the President of the General Assembly during the seventy-first session, to discuss the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the positioning of UN-Habitat in this regard.

The High-Level panel is composed of the following eight members, and reports directly to the Secretary-General:

1.    Peter Calthorpe is an architect, urban designer, urban planner, and founding member of the Congress for New Urbanism.

Mr. Calthorpe’s career in urban design, planning, and architecture began in 1976, combining his experience in each discipline to develop new approaches to urban revitalization, suburban growth, and regional planning.  In 1983, he founded the award-winning firm of Calthorpe Associates devoted to sustainable urban design and planning globally.  He is a founder and the first board president of the Congress of New Urbanism.

In 1986, along with Sim Van der Ryn, Mr. Calthorpe published Sustainable Communities, a book that inspired generations of new thinking in environmental design and helped launch sustainability as a defining goal of many ecological efforts.  In the early 1990s, he developed the concept of Transit Oriented Development, highlighted in The Next American Metropolis, an idea that is now the foundation of regional policies and city plans around the world.  His latest book, Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change, documents his work relating patterns of development to energy and carbon emissions, along with other environmental, social and economic impacts.  Recently he led a ground-breaking state-wide urban design effort, Vision California, to inform the implementation of the state’s Climate Change legislation.  He studied at the Graduate School of Architecture at Yale University.

2.    Dian Triansyah Djani is the current Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Djani was the Director General for America and Europe in his country’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  Between 2009 and 2012, he served as Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, including the World Trade Organization.

From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Djani was Director General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), having served as Director of Intra-Regional Cooperation for Asia-Pacific and Africa from 2004 to 2005, and Director for Multilateral Trade and Investment from 2002 to 2004.  Having begun his career in the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1985, Mr. Djani has held numerous posts in Indonesia and overseas.  He holds master’s degrees in economics from the University of Indonesia, and in economic development from Vanderbilt University in the United States.

3.    Anne Hidalgo is the Mayor of Paris, France.

Ms. Hidalgo became the first woman to be elected Mayor of Paris in April 2014.  She is a former labour inspector, having joined the Socialist Party in 1994.  In 1997, she joined the cabinet of Martine Aubry, then-Minister for Employment and National Solidarity.

As First Deputy to Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, for 13 years, she headed the list of the Paris Left in its successes in the regional elections of 2004 and 2010.  The Mayor of Paris is currently President of the AIMF (Association internationale des Maires francophones), President of C40, Co-President of the UCLG and First Vice-President of the Greater Paris Metropolitan Area.

4.    Sheela Patel is Founder and Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and a global expert on urban poverty alleviation and advocacy for slum dwellers.

Ms. Patel founded SPARC in 1984, a Mumbai-based non-governmental organization focused on housing and infrastructure rights for the urban poor.  During this time, Ms. Patel has played a key role in the expansion of Mahila Milan, a federation of collectives of women living in slums across India.

Ms. Patel is also the Chair of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), an international network of poor people’s organizations and supporting non-governmental organizations active in Asia and Africa.  She has represented SDI as member or adviser in many national and international task forces and committees, including for multiple United Nations agencies.

Ms. Patel received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award from the Synergos Institute in recognition of her extensive efforts to ameliorate urban poverty, and Padmashree, the fourth-highest civilian award in India for her work on urban poverty alleviation.  She holds a Master of Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

5.    Rosario Robles is the Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development of Mexico.

In 1999, Ms. Rosario was sworn in as Mayor of Mexico City, the first and only woman to run the city.  Under the current Federal Government, from 2012 to 2015, she served as Secretary of Social Development, during which time she coordinated Mexico’s new generation social policy and launched the “National Crusade against Hunger”.

Ms. Robles served as President of the Party of the Democratic Revolution in 2002, having previously been Secretary of Government of Mexico City between 1997 and 1999, and Federal Representative for the fifty-sixth Congress, from 1994 to 1997.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and master’s degree in rural development from the Autonomous Metropolitan University.  Her political career has been characterized by her dedication to empowering women and guaranteeing gender equality in the public sphere, and combating poverty.

6.    František Ružička is the Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations.

Prior to his appointment in 2012, Mr. Ružička was elected Chair of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) during the sixty-ninth United Nations General Assembly and was a member of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing from 2013 to 2014.  He also co-chaired the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the sixty-eighth General Assembly.

Mr. Ružička’s career has included numerous foreign posts.  From October 2004 until his current appointment, he served as Director General of the European Affairs Section at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Bratislava.  Between September 2003 and April 2005, he was Director of the Department for Internal Affairs and Institutions of the European Union.  Previously, Mr. Ružička represented his country as a Member of the delegation to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, Ambassador to Poland and in numerous posts at the Foreign Ministry.

7.    Ponsto S.M. Sekatle is the Minister of Health and Social Welfare in Lesotho.

In June 2001, Ms. Sekatle was appointed to the Senate, and in July 2001 she became Minister of Health and Social Welfare.  She was a member of the Qacha’s Nek constituency for the third time, and appointed Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs in 2012.  In that capacity, she executed local elections in 2005, the first of their kind in Lesotho and originally envisioned during 1968.  She has also headed various executive committees, such as the Lesotho Congress for Democracy Women’s League and Democratic Congress League.

Ms. Sekatle started as a Secretary-General in 2008 and went on to become the President of both the committees, which she headed as of 2016.  She was also the Deputy President for African Association for Public Administration and Management, Deputy President for the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Lesotho, and Director of Lesotho National Development Corporation.  She has published various works in the fields of public administration, governance and institution building.

8.    Mpho Parks Tau is the President of United Cities and Local Governments and the President of the South African Local Government Association.

Mr. Tau served as the second democratically elected Executive Mayor of Johannesburg from 2011 to 2016.  He is also the Chairperson of the South African Cities Network.

As a member of the Johannesburg Mayoral Committee President, from 2000 to 2011, Mr. Tau drove the city’s socioeconomic transformation agenda.  During this time, he headed the portfolios of Development Planning, Transport and Environment, and Finance and Economic Development.  Mr. Tau holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in public management from Regenesys and a Master of Science in public policy and management from the University of London.

In carrying out its mandate, the High-Level Panel is expected to hold consultations and workshops with the Governing Council and the Committee of Permanent Representatives of UN-Habitat, Member States, key partners in multilateral international organizations, associations of local authorities, and other relevant stakeholders.

Accordingly, it is envisaged that the High-Level Panel would meet on three occasions (twice in New York and once in Nairobi), and conduct two workshops:  one in Nairobi and another as part of a visit to a UN-Habitat field project at a location to be determined in the first half of 2017.

In addition to the High-Level Panel report, a Chair’s summary of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly will serve as an input to the work of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) during the seventy-second session for its consideration of the action to be taken in light of the recommendations contained in the independent assessment, in its annual resolution under the relevant agenda item.

For information media. Not an official record.