The Habitat III Africa Regional Meeting has opened in Abuja featuring array of personalities from the African region, academia, civil societies and heads of delegation from the United Nations Habitat secretariat in New York and Nairobi. The aim of the meeting is to discuss African priorities for sustainable urban development. The outcome of this meeting will form an Abuja position at the upcoming Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.
The Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, declared the technical segment opened and noted that the meeting is a milestone on the road to the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).
The Minister enjoined all delegates from African region to articulate a common position while speaking with one strong voice towards the realization of sustainable urban development in the continent.
Speaking at the occasion, the Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, Mr. Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, said the local government fraternity of Africa commended the contributions of the Presidential initiative led by the governments of Nigeria and Ghana for the support given to the process leading to the definition of African Urban Agenda, and the adoption of a multi–stakeholders approach to the definition of a common African position for the Habitat III Conference.
Mbassi said “Africa is urbanizing at a high pace, and cities are fast becoming the locus of majority of African people. But in spite of the challenge, Africa is making headways in creating an enabling environment for cities and local governments to be able to cope with the urban challenge”.
The technical segment also featured statements from Mr. Kumaresh Misra, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development. He opined that cities are the engine of economic growth and development, adding that “the vital role of urbanization for Sustainable Development is strongly reflected in goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which calls for making cities and human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable”.
Earlier while sensitizing journalists at the Urban Journalism Academy, Misra said government and stakeholders should implement policies and programmes for sustaining affordable housing for the people.
The United Nations General Assembly in resolution 66/207 convened the Habitat III Conference to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanization, to focus on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, building on the Habitat Agenda of Istanbul in 1996.
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