President Kenyatta calls for UN-Habitat reforms to effectively address challenges of urbanization

President Uhuru Kenyatta applauds during the 26th Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat at the United Nations Office, Nairobi.
President Uhuru Kenyatta Monday held talks with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Peter Thomson, on the need for the UN to increase funding for efforts to stabilise Somalia.

President Kenyatta said the UN should do more to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) so that the force can play a bigger role in supporting the government of Somalia and neutralise terrorist threats in the country.

The President said the UN also needs to give more funds to the government of Somalia so that it can do more to ensure the safety of her people.

London Conference

He said the European Union has supported AMISOM forces and the UN should do more to help Somalia.

"The EU has worked hard and its work is appreciated but ultimately the UN has a responsibility to support the mission," said the President.

Mr Kenyatta's comments come ahead of the Third London Conference on Somalia, which he is to attend on May 11.

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Kenyatta also spoke about the security situation in South Sudan and told Mr Thomson that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) needs to be re-organised and realigned to meet its responsibility effectively.

"This should be done as soon possible in order to set the pace for the process of stabilising South Sudan," said the President.

The President also underscored the need to reform the UN-Habitat to create smart towns and cities that are economically viable, socially livable, environmentally resilient and politically stable settlements.

Kenyatta said the capacity of the UN-Habitat should be strengthened to enable it to serve as a focal agency for sustainable urbanisation.

"That is why we must empower UN-Habitat with the resources it needs – and these resources must be adequate and predictable," the President said.

President Kenyatta was speaking at the United Nations Complex in Gigiri, Nairobi, where he opened the 26th Session of the Governing Council of the UN-Habitat.

The President also welcomed the recent appointment by the UN Secretary-General of a high-level panel of experts to conduct an evidence-based and independent assessment of UN-Habitat, saying the initiative is timely.

"In light of recent challenges – challenges that will not be unfamiliar to any of us – I believe that the organisation and structure of the agency requires reform to make it more effective, efficient, accountable and transparent in its decisions and their making," he said.

The President termed the 26th session a milestone for UN-Habitat, being the first meeting of the Governing Council after the adoption of the momentous 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the New Urban Agenda that sets the global strategy around urbanisation for the next two decades.

The 2030 Agenda is a comprehensive, integrated and inclusive outcome document that aims to achieve peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.

Political commitment

Kenyatta said the 2030 Agenda presents a renewed political commitment for sustainable development and provides the basis for reviewing the mandate of the UN-Habitat.

"Our immediate responsibility is its implementation. We must quickly seize the opportunities, address the challenges and implement the Agenda," the President said.

He added: "The first step – one we can take here and now – is to send a strong political message in support of the new Agenda."

The President said as host of the UN-Habitat, Kenya remains fully committed to the agency and is ready to contribute constructively to secure its objectives.

To address the challenges of urbanisation, Kenyatta said Kenya has embraced devolution which will handle much of implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

"According to our National Bureau of Statistics, by 2050 about half of our people will live in cities," he said.

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