India’s engagement with United Nations Human Settlements Programme

In 1976, India played a pivotal role in establishing the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements and has since continued its consistent support to the organization. India has been engaged with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) since its inception. Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, an Indian, was the first Executive Director of the UN Commission on Human Settlements (UNCHS) from its inception in 1978 to 1993.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is the nodal ministry dealing with India’s engagement with UN-Habitat. India’s High Commissioner to Kenya is accredited as the Permanent Representative of India to UN-Habitat.

India hosted the 11th session of UNCHS in 1988 during that period and the first Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Human Settlements (APMCHHS) in 2006.

India hosts the Permanent Secretariat of the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (APMCHUD) in New Delhi.

Minister of State for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja was elected as the President of the 21st Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat in 2007. Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri Ajay Maken led the Indian delegation at the 24th session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat in Nairobi in April 2013. He also attended the APMCHUD meeting. An exhibition was organized by HUDCO at the UN premises during the 24th session of the Governing Council.

Minister for Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu visited Kenya in May 2017 to participate in the 26th Session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat held in Nairobi. India was unanimously elected as the President of the Governing Council of the UN-Habitat for a period of two-years (2017-19). Minister chaired the 26th Session of Governing Council which had the theme ‘Implementing the New Urban Agenda’. Dr. Ms. Nandita Chatterjee, Secretary (Housing) delivered a statement on behalf of Government of India during the High-Level segment. During the visit, Minister held a meeting with the then Executive Director of the UN-Habitat Dr. Joan Clos and chaired the Bureau Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference.

At present, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing and Urban Affairs is the President of Governing Council of UN-Habitat. Shri Hardeep Singh Puri participated in the 9th session of World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur in February 2018 and met Executive Director of UN-Habitat Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif. He also attended United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum in New York.in July 2018 and met Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

Former Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos visited India in September 2011 and November 2014. Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, former Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat visited India in August 2014. India has been a proactive participant in Habitat III and its processes in Jakarta, Surabaya and Quito.

India makes an annual financial contribution of US$ 150,000 to the General-Purpose Funds of UN-Habitat.

UN-Habitat is among the four implementing agencies to implement a US$ 270 million housing project funded by Government of India to build 43000 houses for internally displaced persons in northern and western provinces of Sri Lanka. Agreements to award work to the agencies were signed at the High Commission of India, Colombo in July 2012. An MoU had earlier been signed between the governments of India and Sri Lanka in January 2012.

India has launched major initiatives for the urban sector, which are aimed towards strengthening the urban system to enable it to play a more positive and significant role in national economic development and in improving access to services to the entire population. The Smart Cities Mission envisages development of 100 smart cities to enhance the quality of urban life and to provide a clean and suitable environment. The Mission for Rejuvenation and Transformation of 500 cities with above 100,000 population aims to create infrastructure that has a direct link to provision of better services to the people. The Heritage City development and Augmentation programme intends to support core infrastructure aimed at revitalization of heritage sites and nearby areas. The National Urban Livelihood mission envisages citizens to be adequately skilled to gain beneficial livelihoods and to contribute to the economy.

Such specific urban development related Missions are further supported by special programmes such as Make-in-India, Digital India, Skilling India and Start up India which all together aim to reinvigorate and re-energize the cities as engines of economic growth and empowerment and as centers of improved quality of life. In addition, for promoting a symbiotic and ecologically sustainable rural urban continuum for ensuring integrated development of rural and urban settlements, a National Rurban mission is under implementation. This Mission is aimed at making the villages smart by creating Rurban clusters through the application of Urban Planning concepts for development of infrastructure and basic services.

In the context of India’s commitment to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, with focus on ‘sustainable cities and human settlements for all’, India has evolved an agenda that would enable the transformation of India in its economic as well as social tenets.


(December 2018)

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