Kenya gears up for UN-Habitat assembly amid hope for new urban agenda

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NAIROBI, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Preparations for the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly, due to kick off in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on June 5-9, have been finalized, a senior official said on Friday.

Michal Mlynar, deputy executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), disclosed that an estimated 5,000 delegates will participate in the five-day assembly that will culminate in the adoption of a new roadmap for regenerating cities and towns.

Mlynar said the assembly, which is the highest legislative organ on urban issues, is expected to draw participants from 193 UN member states, UN specialized agencies, industry, academia and civil society.

Among key topics set for discussion that will be held in both in-person and virtual format, are affordable housing, urban climate action, and localization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to Mlynar.

He told journalists during a virtual news conference in Nairobi that 56 ministers and 27 vice ministers from all parts of the world are expected to attend the meeting to be held under the theme of "A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises."

Mlynar said Kenyan President William Ruto will attend the official opening ceremony of the UN-habitat assembly on Monday and later on will join his Botswanan counterpart Mokgweetsi Masisi for a high-level dialogue on revitalizing the urban agenda.

Other key highlights of the assembly, according to Mlynar, will be a First Ladies roundtable on the role of women in the creation of sustainable communities to be hosted by Kenyan First Lady Rachel Ruto on June 6.

"We will be hosting an urban expo with 56 exhibitors in attendance who are expected to showcase innovative solutions to challenges facing cities and towns," Mlynar said.

He said the meeting will also discuss ways of strengthening the multilateral system to enhance action on challenges facing a rapidly urbanizing world, including climate emergencies, pollution, and inadequate access to basic services like shelter, clean water, sanitation and health.

Mlynar said the assembly will adopt resolutions that call for accelerating digitalization, enhanced collaboration, and sustainable financing in order to achieve an inclusive, green, and resilient future for cities.

The first UN-Habitat assembly was held in 2019, and the second edition, to take place amid eased COVID-19 restrictions globally, is expected to galvanize action required to promote sustainable urbanization, Mlynar noted.

Jean Kimani, Kenya's permanent representative to the UN-Habitat, said outcomes of the second habitat assembly will be key to accelerating green urbanization. Enditem

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