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Report of the High Level Independent Panel to Assess and Enhance Effectiveness of UN-Habitat

Seventy-first session
Agenda item 20
Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
1 August 2017

10 octobre 2017

This report, in recognition of the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the transformative changes they imply for global development, peace and security, focuses on the critical need for action on pressing sustainable urban issues and the assessment of UN-Habitat as a fit for purpose organisation to deliver on these bold objectives.
The Panel that is responsible for this report was mandated by the General Assembly’s resolution A/RES/71/256, paras 172- 173, to undertake an independent, objective, evidence-based review and assessment of UN-Habitat with recommendations to enhance its effectiveness, efficiency, accountability in its normative and operational mandates ; its governance structure ; its partnerships ; and its financial capability. The Panel was encouraged by the Secretary-General to make bold and ambitious recommendations, considering the challenges and opportunities posed by urbanisation, their impact on global development, peace and security and the importance of leaving no one behind.

The Panel acknowledges here the challenges that both UN-Habitat and the wider UN system face, which have compromised the ability to respond nimbly and effectively to rapid global change. It draws attention in particular to the failure within the UN system to adequately acknowledge the pace, scale and implications of urbanisation, the dependence of the 2030 Agenda on the direction of urban development, or the fundamental role played in urban development by local governments and other local actors.
The Panel agrees that UN-Habitat has limitations in accountability, transparency and efficiency, that its resources have been inadequate, insecure and unpredictable, and that the need to chase funds has caused it to stray from its normative mandate. In the Panel’s assessment, the first priority is to save, stabilise and then rapidly strengthen UN-Habitat to equip it for a renewed role based on the 2030 Agenda and the NUA. To support UN-Habitat’s efforts, the Panel also recommends the establishment of UN Urban, an independent coordinating mechanism to convene all UN agencies and partners on urban sustainability.
In response to the challenges, the Panel recommends for UN-Habitat a renewed commitment to the normative mission, with an emphasis on the 2030 Agenda—inspired commitment to leaving no one behind, and with innovative approaches to financing the organisation to support its normative role. It stresses the need for a transformed governance structure that includes universal membership, a small, strong Policy Board and the formal involvement of local authorities/subnational governments and other urban stakeholders to provide input and recommendations. It also recommends stronger more inclusive partnerships generally with representative organisations of local governments and excluded urban groups.

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