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India backs creation of UN outfit to coordinate urban development

India has expressed support for the creation of UN-Urban, an outfit to coordinate the world body’s activities for urban development.

Welcoming the recommendation by a high-level panel to form UN-Urban, Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry official Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, said on Tuesday: “We need to ensure that all UN agencies and also all levels within UN-Habitat work in tandem to strengthen implementation of urban agenda and sustainable development goals (SDGs).”

In its report released in August, the panel convened by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said that UN-Urban would help coordinate urban development activities across the sprawling UN establishment and promote the New Urban Agenda (NUA) adopted in 2016 by the Habitat III conference to promote the relevant UN SDGs.

Mishra, who is an Additional Secretary in the Ministry, told a High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the New Urban Agenda and UN-Habitat, “The recommendation to strengthen UN-Habitat by establishing UN-Urban, based in New York with the purpose of identifying opportunities for collaboration across agencies and countries is welcome.”

He said that to achieve the SDGs and implement the NUA, “UN-Habitat needs to globally engage with numerous partner institutions, including governments, private sector entities, NGOs, academia, and community groups to identify innovative approaches and priorities.”

Earlier, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed admitted that the UN was not doing enough for the urban areas. “Today, we acknowledge that the UN is not delivering sufficiently in cities. And, through our common effort, we will rectify this,” she said.

She said the UN-Habitat should be reformed so it can get “funders, private sector and civil society organisations to scale up their work in urban areas”.

Mohammed said that by 2050 about 70 per cent of the global population could be living in urban areas and added, “It is clear that it is in cities where the battle for sustainability will be won or lost.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])

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