Insider tips on working with UN-Habitat

The main lobby of the UN-Habitat headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by: Thomas Stellmach / CC BY-NC

KUALA LUMPUR — After eight years of contentious leadership, UN-Habitat is emerging with renewed energy to deliver projects that help countries leverage their cities to meet national obligations under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. That strategy is poised to offer more opportunities for development professionals in the coming years now that former Barcelona mayor Joan Clos, whose brash, undiplomatic style did not endear itself to donor countries or his staff, has left.

The recent appointment of a consensus-building former Malaysian mayor, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, is likely to see countries opening their pockets even more for the Nairobi-based agency, sector watchers say.

UN-Habitat, formally the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, may not have the same profile as better-endowed, globally-recognized branches of the U.N. family such as UNICEF or the World Food Programme, but it has new wind in its sails as the agency seeks to capitalize on the recent adoption of the New Urban Agenda, a 20-year roadmap to sustainable urbanization.

Q&A: How can urbanization pay for itself? 3 questions for UN-Habitat

Marco Kamiya, the head of the urban economy and finance department at UN-Habitat sat down with Devex to share his thoughts on some of the simple but necessary regulatory steps that cities can take to unlock larger streams of finance and what, in his opinion, makes for smart urban planning.

The New Urban Agenda was launched at the Habitat III summit in October 2016, following a three-year global consultation. While the negotiation and adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement overshadowed the New Urban Agenda, the document is slowly gaining ground within national governments who see investing in better cities as a way of tackling major development challenges.

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About the author

  • Greg

    Gregory Scruggs

    Gregory Scruggs is a journalist based in Seattle. He has a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a master's degree from Columbia University. A specialist in Latin America and the Caribbean, he was a Fulbright scholar in Brazil. His coverage of the Habitat III summit and global urbanization won a 2017 United Nations Correspondent Association award. He coordinates the Seattle chapter of the Solutions Journalism Network.