Second Daily Journal
Thursday, 8 April 2021, marked the second and last day of the first session of the Executive Board of UN-Habitat for the year 2021.
Agenda item 8: Implementation of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN Habitat Assembly.
The Executive Director gave a status update on the implementation of resolutions and decisions adopted by the UN-Habitat Assembly at its first session in May 2019. She noted that the lack of consistent voluntary funding had made this work challenging, specifically during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Director highlighted progress made, as follows:
Resolution 1/1 on the United Nations Human Settlements Programme strategic plan for the period 2020–2023.
The Secretariat provided an update on the implementation of the supporting documents towards the effective and accountable implementation of the strategic plan for the period 2020–2023.
a) Results framework with performance indicators and a data collection method
The Results Framework as well as the Results-Based Management policy have been disseminated throughout the Programme and the roll-out has started through project and programme review mechanisms, the provision of training to staff and the completion of an upcoming Results-Based Management Handbook.
b) Impact communication strategy
The Secretariat highlighted main actions undertaken to improve its communication such as dissemination of UN-Habitat’s COVID-19 Response Plan in all UN languages, media coverage of the outcomes of the World Urban Forum 10, improvements made on the corporate website, as well as global campaigns such as the #Housing4All Campaign.
In 2021, communications and advocacy will focus on Climate Solutions for Cities, The Cities and Pandemics Report and Voluntary Local Reviews as well as decent housing and the Future of Cities.
The Executive Director also indicated that an informal contact group on communication matters met to discuss proposals for future improvement in strengthening the trust of Member States, improving UN-Habitat’s brand to increase recognition globally, and demonstrate efficiency in UN-Habitat’s work.
UN Habitat is already engaged with Poland/Katowice for the planning of World Urban Forum (WUF 11) to be held in June 2022.
c) Partnerships strategy
In 2020, UN-Habitat signed agreements of cooperation and MOUs with 194 partners including national and local governments, civil society, and UN agencies.
UN-Habitat also works closely with the Stakeholder Advisory Group Enterprise (SAGE). SAGE adopted a workplan for 2021, which includes stakeholder engagement in intergovernmental processes, programme design and implementation, resource mobilization, advocacy, and monitoring of global commitments including urban related SDGs and the NUA.
The Secretariat indicated that in 2021, UN-Habitat will strengthen the reporting on cooperation and collaboration with its partners and will build the capacity of stakeholders on monitoring SDGs and the New Urban Agenda in support of Voluntary Local Reviews and Voluntary National Reviews.
d) Typology of human settlements
The Secretariat informed the Executive Board that the approved typology is being used as a programming tool to support decision-making on country presence, normative development, knowledge exchange and inter-country/city cooperation. In this regard, UN-Habitat has already identified 15 countries where the tool will be rolled out.
e) Accountability framework
The Secretariat mentioned that it will continue its efforts to: a) strengthen results-based management through the improvement of guidance and training, and on the basis of staff feedback; b) launch an online overall results-based management training programme in 2021; c) support all entities in the development of their annual results frameworks in accordance with the results-based management principles through workshops and technical support; d) mainstream the use of the integrated planning, management and reporting solution in the Secretariat and adapt its functionality to the needs of assessed contributions; e) ensure alignment of the Umoja Extension; f) integrate programmatic data with transaction data seamlessly to enable more in-depth and cross-cutting analyses of the work of the United Nations and facilitate real-time decision-making and reporting on results by linking the resources to results at appropriate levels, and; g) report to the Management Committee on a regular basis on progress in embedding the strategic planning, budget formulation and performance management in the organization and in measuring the mainstreaming of the solution across the United Nations Secretariat, thus ensuring its fullest adoption.
The Secretariat also presented to the Executive Board the report A/75/804 of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.
f) Resource mobilization strategy
The Secretariat presented the 2020 achievements as follows:
- Regular bilateral and regional group briefings, strategic dialogues
- Monthly financial updates with programmatic highlights
- Private sector strategy, foundations and philanthropies platform, online public giving (“Donate now” button)
- Enabling environment: stronger and more systematic internal procedures, donor information system
- Income acquisition: Earmarked grants: USD 172.2M; Voluntary core contributions: USD 4.9M; Regular budget: USD 12.5M
g) Draft financial plan
UN-Habitat worked on a concept note on the draft financial plan and will work with the ad-hoc working group on programmatic, budgetary and administrative matters to develop an explanation of actual annual income and expenditures of the draft financial plan.
Resolution 1/2 on UN Systemwide Guidelines on Safer Cities and Human Settlements.
The Terms of Reference for a peer review mechanism to assess progress and propose amendments to the guidelines where necessary to ensure effective implementation will be submitted to the next session of the Executive Board. A joint programming framework has been established with UNODC.
In order to be able to deploy the peer review process, as described in the Guidelines, UN-Habitat estimated a budget of USD 2.5M per year to engage with 15 identified countries, which results in a total of USD 15M for a period of 10 years. UN-Habitat has already started the peer-review processes in South-Africa and in Mexico. Lebanon has also been identified.
Resolution 1/3 on Enhancing capacity-building for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the urban dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
An update was given on the launch of the global capacity building toolkit on the New Urban Agenda in January 2021, comprising an Illustrated Handbook (totalizing 10,000 downloads as of 1 March 2021), a free online interactive course, as well as ongoing efforts to translate the tools in official UN languages.
The Secretariat informed Member States of the Digital Capacity Building Guide and Strategy currently being reviewed and disseminated internally. Updates were provided regarding various types of partnerships related to capacity building and the support delivered to regional and sub-regional centres of excellence.
Resolution 1/4 on Achieving gender equality through the work of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme to support inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements.
The Secretariat updated that continued project reviews were undertaken by the Project Review Committee to ensure gender and other cross cutting issues are addressed in all UN-Habitat works.
The revision of the UN-Habitat Policy and Plan for Gender Equality is under finalization and will guide UN-Habitat engagement on gender issues in line with the strategic plan 2020–2023. The Gender Equality evaluation final draft has been submitted for review internally.
In partnership with UN sister agencies, civil organizations and grassroots women organizations, and AGGI, UN-Habitat hosted three side events during the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65 15-26 March).
Resolution 1/5 on Enhancing urban-rural linkages (URL) for sustainable urbanization and human settlements.
This resolution has continuously and steadily been implemented despite limited resources. Normative products and thematic guides on URL have been developed and deployed in at least five countries.
As requested by the resolution, documentation inspiring practices have been undertaken and disseminated widely including through a series of Webinars. Through impactful outreach and advocacy, strategic global partnerships have been forged particularly with the FAO (Green Cities Initiative), the OECD, and UN-Habitat advice to the Italian presidency of G20 on territorial approaches and intermediate cities. In the coming months, many other initiatives will be launched including online training and capacity building on URL.
Decision 1/3 on Arrangements for the transition towards the new governance structure of UN-Habitat
The Secretariat indicated that was no progress to report as the Ad-hoc working group on stakeholder engagement policy is yet to meet when in-person meetings are possible, in line with Decision 2020/6 adopted by the Executive Board at its second session.
Cameroon paid tribute to the amount of work carried out by the Executive Director despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the financial situation of UN-Habitat and shared encouragements to pursue the efforts being implemented. Cameroon also stated its interest in hosting the UN-Habitat sub-regional office for Central Africa.
Canada welcomed the details provided on the resource requirements for the Safer Cities programme and recognized the complexity and the cost for designing Terms of Reference for Review mechanisms. Canada hoped that UN-Habitat was able to review and submit an updated concept note of the Safer Cities programme. Canada requested UN-Habitat to share the Memorandum of Understanding signed with UNODC with the Executive Board, as well as the details of the cooperation in practice. The Secretariat clarified that the collaboration with UNODC was ongoing since 2003 and that UNODC was one of the agencies who contributed to the System Wide Guidelines. The collaboration has been both normative and programmatic.
The Secretariat underlined that using the Safer Cities review mechanisms peer review can be complex and this explains why it took UN-Habitat some time to develop the Terms of Reference. UN-Habitat is in the process of circulating a survey to Member States on Safer Cities which will enable to update the concept note based on Members States’ feedback. It will be presented along with the Terms of reference at the next session of the Executive Board
Sweden took note of the presentation and requested an update on UN-Habitat Policy and Plan for gender equality and the empowerment of women in urban development and informal settlements.
Agenda item 9: Progress made by UN-Habitat in the implementation of the United Nations development system reform
The Chair recalled that the Ad-hoc working group on programmatic, budgetary and administrative matters discussed the scenarios for aligning the UN-Habitat strategic planning process to the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review Process but was not able to reach an agreement, and agreed that further consultation was needed. All member States in the Ad-hoc working group, under the leadership of Pakistan are committed to aligning UN-Habitat’s Strategic Planning processes. The challenge is to determine whether to adopt an Interim Strategic Plan, or to extend the current Strategic Plan to cover six years. Both these options will allow UN-Habitat to align its Strategic Plan with other UN agencies.
The Executive Board encouraged the working group to continue its discussions with a view to reach a recommendation to report to the second session of the Executive Board in 2021. As the UN-Habitat Assembly is the governing body that ultimately has to take a decision on the matter, the Executive Board took note of the briefing by the Executive Director informing of her consultation with the President of the UN-Habitat Assembly as per the request of the Bureau of the Executive Board and the Ad-hoc working group on programmatic, budgetary and administrative matters. Member States also acknowledged that the final decision will need to be taken by the UN-Habitat Assembly, so it was necessary for the Executive Director to brief the President of the UN-Habitat Assembly (Mexico) on progress made by the working group.
Implementation of UN Development System reforms started following the adoption of Agenda 2030, in order to align work of the UN Development System to Agenda 2030, as well as to the humanitarian, peace and development nexus. The reforms aim to enhance country ownership, accountability and effective use of resources, and revitalization of the Resident Coordinator System.
UN-Habitat has contributed to UN System wide reforms with the introduction of a sub-regional approach, a shift to urban comprehensive programming with UNCT, the engagement in development of CCA/CF in 25 countries in 2020, and in 23 additional countries in 2021, and assisting UN to think spatially, work in cities, engage stakeholders, apply a systems approach, and mobilize public, private domestic and international investments to finance the SDGs.
UN-Habitat is the coordinator of the UN System wide strategy for sustainable urbanization and acts as chair of the UN Task Force on the Future of Cities and Local2030 Global Campaign, co-leads the Secretary-General’s Guidance Note on Land and Conflict Prevention, and the IASC Framework for engagement of cities in humanitarian operations.
Member States expressed appreciation and support for UN-Habitat’s work on UN System wide reforms and urged UN-Habitat to position itself strategically to maximize the impact of its work.
The Executive Director welcomed feedback and expressed appreciation for acknowledgements by Member States of the hard work UN-Habitat has put into UN System wide reforms. Member States were told they can count on UN-Habitat to strengthen further its efforts at the global, regional and local levels.