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SG/SM/18633-HAB/241
3 August 2017

Secretary-General Welcomes Panel’s Proposals on Tackling Rapid City Growth, Agrees UN-Habitat Needs Flexible Structure to Better Serve World’s Poorest

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The Secretary-General welcomes the report of the High-Level Independent Panel to Assess and Enhance the Effectiveness of UN-Habitat, which was drafted in response to General Assembly resolution A/RES/71/256.  The Secretary-General thanks the Panel members for their robust, evidence-based assessment of the agency.

The Secretary-General appreciates the recommendations put forth by the Panel on better ways to address urbanization, a global mega-trend that is putting pressure on communities, infrastructure and the environment, and on how UN-Habitat and the UN system can reform to become fit for purpose in cities.

The Secretary-General finds many of the recommendations in line with his own proposals for the reform of the UN Development System, particularly the establishment of “UN Urban,” aimed at fostering more collaborative work by UN agencies in the revamped UN country teams, and the alignment of UN-Habitat’s regional offices with the new policy integration functions of the Regional Economic Commissions.

He also acknowledges the recommendations for changes to UN-Habitat’s governance, and agrees that the agency must be equipped with a flexible, efficient structure that delivers for the most vulnerable residents of the world’s cities.  He recognizes the challenges with universal membership, as well as the importance of articulating a definitive normative and operational mandate for the organization, and looks forward to further discussions with Member States about this recommendation.

The Secretary-General considers rapid urbanization and its links with poverty, inequality, public health, migration, climate change and natural disasters to be one of the most pressing concerns of the United Nations.  He therefore appreciates the strong relationship between the assessment of UN-Habitat and the overall reform of the United Nations Development System.  He thanks the High-Level Panel for its compelling ideas, and looks forward to further discussions with Member States on ambitious reforms that will help the human family to meet the urban tests of our time.

For information media. Not an official record.