STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MR. LIDON CHARLES, PERMANENT MISSION OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE CONSIDERATION OF ITEM 21: FOLLOW-UP TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW URBAN AGENDA AND STRENGTHENING OF THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN SETTLEMENTS PROGRAMME (UN-HABITAT), AT THE SECOND COMMITTEE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 15 October 2020)
1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. The Group would like to thank the Secretariat for all the reports under this agenda item, focusing on the follow-up to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN - Habitat).
3. The New Urban Agenda signifies to us, a vision of cities and human settlements characterized by quality of life, equity, sustainable environment and an inclusive economy, recognizing the roles of cities and human settlements as a positive force for achieving sustainable development.
4. Therefore, the Group would like to highlight that urban and rural areas are both interdependent and mutually supportive, and are important engines of economic growth, poverty reduction and environmental protection.
5. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to thrive particularly in cities, human settlements and slum areas, among others. This has greatly impacted the implementation and review of the New Urban Agenda and related dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has exposed deeply rooted inequalities, particularly in the poorest communities, with frail health systems, inadequate shelter, and limited access to water and sanitation for all.
6. The present situation of the rapid evolution of cities, population growth and increasing poverty require a more responsive, effective and better resourced UN-Habitat. Therefore, the compounding effects of COVID-19 necessitate that we use this as an opportunity to reset, refocus and reorganize how we interact, live and rebuild our cities and human settlements.
7. In this regard, we take note of the commitment by UN-Habitat to support the efforts of developing countries to implement the New Urban Agenda, focusing particularly on national urban policies, national and local government dialogue, urban planning capacity building, and the urban economy and finance.
8. One such commitment is the Participatory Incremental Planning Toolbox: "a Toolbox to Support Local Governments in Developing Countries to Implement the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals" to provide guidance for planning in contexts of constrained capacity.
9. UN-Habitat continues to play a critical role in developing international norms, values and principles on sustainable urbanization and human settlements. Additionally, it supports countries to address challenges arising from rapid urbanization and inadequate human settlements, providing technical expertise and capacity building for project implementation in over 90 countries globally.
10. For that reason, we take note of the adoption of the UN-Habitat strategic plan for the period 2020-2023. The plan ensures the alignment of its core mandates with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by promoting sustainable urban development to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality, create prosperity, advance climate action and prevent and support recovery from urban crises.
11. The Group reiterates that the UN-Habitat should focus on development. It should be equipped to provide greater support for developing countries in strengthening their capacity for sustainable development and improving peoples' living conditions. As an intergovernmental international organization, UN-Habitat should be owned and led by Member States and should enhance its consultation with programme countries, as well as strengthen its capacity for serving its Members.
12. It is also important to enhance UN-Habitat's role in helping developing countries disseminate best practices - such as successful operations resulting from slum upgrading programmes and new cities - at the national level, for better visibility on public policies; and at the international level, particularly within the framework of South-South Cooperation.
13. We note with concern that UN-Habitat is facing critical shortages in finance due to the limited number of voluntary contributions received. Although in 2019, voluntary non-earmarked contributions increased by more than 40 per cent, from $3.7 million to $5.2 million, these did not cover all the operating expenses of the Programme's non-earmarked fund. The international community must ensure that there are sufficient voluntary contributions to support UN-Habitat's normative and operational work.
14. In conclusion Mr. Chairman, the Group looks forward to constructive engagements with our development partners during the deliberations on this item, to ensure that our collective efforts in good faith, will yield positive results for UN- Habitat.
I thank you.