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DSG/SM/1512
2 December 2020

Deputy Secretary-General Calls for Partnership, Investment in New Urban Agenda, as Number of City Dwellers Expected to Jump 70 Per Cent by 2050

Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme’s (UN-Habitat) Pledging Session, “Partner and Pledge for Sustainable Urbanization”, today:

I am pleased to add my voice of solidarity to “Partner and Pledge for Sustainable Urbanization” with UN-Habitat.  Today, 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to almost 70 per cent by 2050.

As recognized during the last United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), the mandate of this organization is more important than ever.  We must heed the call to work together with all stakeholders to make cities more inclusive, safe, prosperous, green and resilient.

The global pandemic has put a bright spotlight on the urgency to address inequalities and sustainable development challenges in cities.  By leveraging cities as innovation hubs and creative solutions, we can build back a more just, equitable, and greener recovery to improve the quality of lives for all.

Solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges — from the pandemic to climate adaptation to equity and inclusion — start in cities to make sure that no one and no place is left behind.

Recovering better will demand putting in practice the New Urban Agenda agreed at Habitat III.  UN-Habitat cannot do this alone.  Its role as a catalyst for sustainable urban development requires collaboration, partnership, and investment.

I call on all Member States to support this effort to emerge stronger from this crisis and accelerate progress in our urban settlements during this Decade of Action.  As you know so well, the Sustainable Development Goals will be won or lost at the local level.  Our actions must align with this reality.

I know of the importance of this work first-hand.  Just two weeks ago, I visited UN-Habitat’s work in Ga Mashi near Ghana’s capital, Accra.  I saw the reality of overcrowding and lack of services in these informal settlements, and the real impact of UN-Habitat’s work in changing young people’s lives.  The Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme provides opportunities for community leadership, youth engagement, and long-term economic viability.

During the COVID-19 response, UN-Habitat worked with the community and authorities to expand water and sanitation, reinforce measures to prevent the spread of the virus and improve livelihoods in the community, strengthening resilience and reducing urban poverty.

UN-Habitat is committed to helping strengthen capacities of national institutions, so they can take advantage of urbanization that supports the Sustainable Development Goals.  I saw the results of this work in the faces of all those I met. 

Today’s objectives are quite clear.  We are asking Member States to pledge support for sustainable urbanization; through advocacy to build broad ownership and strong commitment for sustainable urbanization; through partnership to leverage financing to achieve urban SDG targets; and through funding to provide financial support for the core mandate of the organization — and to lead and bring public and private partners together to deliver the New Urban Agenda 2030.

I urge Member States and other funding partners to contribute to UN-Habitat’s financial targets of $205.9 million, of which $10 million is core non-earmarked funds and $195.9 million is for global thematic and country programmes.

We look forward to working with all Member States and stakeholders to accelerate action on the ground towards sustainable and resilient urban areas that can continue to propel inclusive growth and development.  Thank you for your commitment and continued support.

For information media. Not an official record.