16 July 2018

Deputy Secretary-General, Noting Risks Posed by Unplanned Cities, Urges UN-Habitat to Speak up for Eradication of Slums, Give Voice to Urban Poor

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) reception for the 2018 High-Level Political Forum, in New York today:

It’s a great pleasure to join you today to mark the launch of the UN-Habitat report on Sustainable Development Goal 11, on sustainable cities and communities.  I also appreciate the presence of His Excellency Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs of India, as President of the Governing Council.  Thank you for being here.

Sustainable Development Goal 11 and the New Urban Agenda are turning points.  They mark a new recognition of urbanization as both a global megatrend and as a transformative force that can help us deliver on all the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  It is in this context where we require a strong UN-Habitat, fit for purpose to catalyse and inspire the world and the United Nations system to reshape its work in urban environments.

In this vein, I would like to share some initial thoughts about the unique position in which we find UN-Habitat today.  We hear from every corner of the world about the vital role of urbanization.  We know the statistics.  We know the risks posed by unplanned cities.  And in many cases, we know the solutions.  What we need now is leadership and clarity.  UN-Habitat must act as a global catalyst to scale solutions and steer the United Nations to lead in all types of cities — large and small.

I see three areas in particular where UN-Habitat can take the lead.  First, on advocacy and equity:  I hope UN-Habitat will continue to speak out for the eradication of slums, giving a voice to the urban poor and calling for their inclusion in sustainable development and efforts to combat climate change.

Second, on action:  as conflicts become more and more urbanized, I encourage UN-Habitat to develop expertise to equip cities with the knowledge, tools and early warning systems to withstand crises and build back better.

Third, on knowledge:  I hope UN-Habitat will be the go-to source for data and analysis on urbanization, providing information so that Governments, non‑governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and businesses can make better decisions and direct their programmes and support where they will have the greatest impact.

The challenges and opportunities we face require all of us to embrace transformation if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and increase our impact in urban environments.

I wish to commend Maimunah Mohd Sharif for her leadership and look forward to learning more about her vision and collaborating with her in that effort.

Finally, I would like to toast all of you, as UN-Habitat’s supporters, for the good work you are doing during these opportune times.  Thank you, and enjoy your evening.

For information media. Not an official record.