19 May 2017
26th UN-Habitat Governing Council endorses global partnership system for NUA implementation

The 26th Session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council, held in Nairobi, Kenya from 8-12 May, brought together 650+ delegates to harness opportunities for the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

The Governing Council meets every two years to review UN-Habitat’s work plan for the coming biennial, in a high-level forum of governments at the ministerial level during which policy guidelines and the organisation’s budget are established for the next two-year period.

Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director UN-Habitat presenting at the 26th Session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council, Kenya. Credit. UN-Habitat photos

Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director UN-Habitat. Credit. UN-Habitat photos

Welcoming the delegates at the 26th Governing Council, UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos stressed that urbanisation was an inevitable part of life and that strong partnerships were needed to manage it.

“Local authorities or national governments alone cannot address the challenges of urbanisation. What is needed are strong partnerships…”

A key new partnerships platform, the Implementation Facility for Sustainable Urban Development (IFSUD),  was endorsed by the member states of the Governing Council on the final day of the five-day high level meeting, calling for UN-Habitat to collaborate with other UN agencies and the World Bank group to mobilise expertise and investments in sustainable urbanisation.


Lead partners on this important New Urban Agenda implementation initiative include UN-Habitat, UNOPS, UNDP, WFP, UN Women, UN Global Compact, the World Bank Group and IFC. The United Nations Global Compact – Cities Programme’s role in operationalising this new initiative is through the “City Partnerships” platform that draws together the Programme’s network of local governments, academia, and private sector partners.

The Governing Council high level announcements included USD 11 Million funding to improve life in slums; awarded to the global Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme to Empower African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to transform the living conditions of slum dwellers. UN-Habitat estimates that an alarming one billion people live in slums worldwide and if no action is taken – the number of people living in inadequate housing is estimated to grow to more than 3 billion by 20130.

26th session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council, Kenya. Credit: UN-Habitat photos

Delegates at the 26th session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council. Credit: UN-Habitat photos

The high-level Governing Council forum was attended by the 58 member states representatives, including government ministers and 650+ delegates representing governments, partners and other stakeholders.

The 26th session agenda focused on critical global issues such as: inclusive, sustainable and adequate housing for a better future; synergies and financing for sustainable urbanisation; integrated human settlements and planning for sustainable urbanisation.

Opening the Council, Kenya’s president, the Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, called the session a milestone for UN-Habitat; the first meeting of the Governing Council following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.

The president also called for the agency’s empowerment, to serve as a focal point for sustainable urbanisation.


UN Global Compact – Cities Programme Chair, Michael Nolan, represented the United Nations Global Compact at a number of high-level roundtables. He reported that the Women’s Empowerment meeting highlighted the critical need to engage men in the push for gender equality and to increase women’s role and participation in urban governance.

Our Chair, Michael Nolan representing UNGC at the 26th session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council.

Our Chair, Michael Nolan representing UNGC at the 26th session of the UN-Habitat Governing Council

Filiep Decort, Acting Director, UN-Habitat New York liaison office moderated the session on ‘Urban Migration and Urban Refugees’. This important discussion included case studies from the UN-Habitat Urban Planning and Design Lab which supports innovative spatial planning approaches to help refugees integrate in their host communities.

Mr Rogier Van den Berg spoke of migrants who come into a new county, expecting to only be there for a year or two and end up staying for years in refugee camps in urban areas. City-wide strategies and planned city extensions were advocated to support refugees to become part of their new community.

Participating in the roundtable on ‘Combating Poverty and Promoting Peace through Job Creation Opportunities for Young Men and Women in African Cities’, Michael highlighted the need to engage the private sector in these regional initiatives:

“Since 90% investment in cities comes from the private sector there is a dire need for the private sector to partner with the UN, cities, governments and other stakeholders for the delivery of crucial local projects and opportunities.”

Partnerships was the “word on the street” at the 26th Council, with most discussions focusing on the importance of global multi-partner initiatives to meet local needs.

Michael reported: “There was a strong interest at the sessions in the role of the United Nations Global Compact as a facilitator of multi-partner projects, providing a platform for impactful private sector, civil society and governments’ collaborations.”

Following the Governing Council’s endorsement of the new Implementation Facility for Sustainable Urban Development, the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, as key implementation partner, has launched its offer to Australian cities. (See Australian City Partnerships Prospectus )

The roll out to cities and partners in Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom will follow over the next 12 months.