ECOSOC Publishes New Strategic Orientation of UN-Habitat for 2020-2025
UN Photo/Kibae Park/Sipa Press
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The strategic plan aims to reposition UN-Habitat as a center of excellence and innovation.

The strategic plan will be presented for approval to the newly established UN Habitat Assembly in May 2019.

Implementation of the strategic plan for 2020-2025 will provide pathways to accelerate achievement of SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities).

27 February 2019: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has issued a note by the Secretary-General outlining a new strategic orientation of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) for the period 2020-2025. It is the first strategic plan for UN-Habitat following the adoption of the SDGs, including Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), among other global agendas.

The strategic plan titled, ‘New Strategic Orientation of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)’ (E/2019/6), emphasizes the relationship between sustainable urbanization and sustainable development more generally. It focuses on generating a positive impact and outcomes for those furthest behind, particularly women and youth in cities and other human settlements. The plan also articulates the ways in which UN-Habitat can help countries, subnational and local governments and other urban stakeholders implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

More specifically, the strategic plan aims to reposition UN-Habitat as a center of excellence and innovation that, inter alia, sets the global agenda on sustainable urban development, and acts as a multiplier in the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practices related to cities and human settlements.

The plan takes into consideration the fact that in 30 years, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas, with 90% of urban growth taking place in less developed regions such as East Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to the document, in 2015, about 2.3 billion people still lacked access to basic sanitation services, and 1.2 billion lacked access to clean drinking water. In addition, today, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing and often lack security of tenure.

The overall objective of the strategic plan is to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace, to improve living conditions for all.

The strategic plan also takes into account the challenges posed by the current model of urbanization, which threatens to undermine achievement of the SDGs. Implementation of the strategic plan for 2020-2025 will provide pathways to accelerate achievement of SDG 11, making it easier to reach other development goals and targets, as well as gender equality and inclusion of youth.

In developing the strategic focus for 2020-2025, a theory of change approach was employed, and new vision and mission statements for UN-Habitat were created. The new vision statement is: “A better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world.” The new mission statement is: “UN-Habitat promotes transformative change in cities and human settlements through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action to leave no one and no place behind.” The overall objective of the strategic plan is “to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace, to improve living conditions for all.”

The strategic plan is comprised of four sub-programmes, namely:

  • reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban-rural continuum, focusing on: urban basic services; urban legislation, land and governance; housing and slum upgrading; and urban planning and design;
  • enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions, focusing on locally generated revenue or municipal finance and inclusive economic growth;
  • strengthened climate action and improved urban environment, in which UN-Habitat will catalyze connections and actions on climate change, linking global actors and policies to national and local contexts; and
  • effective urban crisis prevention and response, in which UN-Habitat will consolidate its work on resilience, recovery, reconstruction and crisis response.

Cross-cutting functions across all the sub-programmes include monitoring and knowledge, and capacity-building.

The strategic plan will be presented for approval to the newly established UN Habitat Assembly (UNHA) in May 2019, and, along with proposed changes to UN-Habitat’s sub-programme structure, will inform the proposed 2020 programme budget. It will be implemented through six annual work programmes and budgets. [New Strategic Orientation of UN-Habitat]

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