I thank you, Madam Chair, for giving me the floor.
The New Urban Agenda is an important accelerator of the decade of action and a critical enabler for achieving sustainable development goal 11 on ‘sustainable cities and communities.’
Six years have passed since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda, but its implementation remains very slow.
The Secretary General’s 2022 report on ‘progress in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda’ highlighted how the impacts of a multiplicity of interlinked and often nested crises- the pandemic, the resultant financial downturns, the climate crisis, and conflicts- have weighed in the agenda’s implementation.
Today, housing remains largely unaffordable both in the developing and developed world. According to the 2022 UN-Habitat World Cities Report, 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing, of which one billion live in slums and informal settlements lacking basic services.
The centrality of the right to adequate housing, including access to land, public spaces and public services, became more evident during the pandemic. Yet, governments across the world struggled to offer safe housing programs targeting the homeless, women, migrants and people with disabilities, slum dwellers and other disadvantaged groups due to a lack of sustainable housing options.
To accelerate the implementation of the agenda, we need global solidarity, enhanced multi-stakeholder partnerships, better planning, and scaled-up investments.
Allow me to share a few specific points in this regard:
First, country ownership and local initiatives are necessary to build sustainable, affordable, climate-resilient and inclusive cities.
In Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s signature project – Ashrayan- meaning safe shelter or housing or shelter- is a good example. Under this project, 8.8 million houses have been provided to homeless people across the country. Slums are being upgraded to multistoried accommodation facilities. We are following a model of inclusive development that emphasizes self-reliance, dignity and economic and social empowerment. The project ensures an equal share of ownership of the land and house for both husband and wife.
We are also developing a comprehensive urban development plan with a specific focus on climate change strategies and policies.
Second, financing the New Urban Agenda remains a challenge and needs to be addressed.
As per the World Bank estimate, nearly $5.4 trillion is needed to finance the global urban infrastructure gap. Only 3% of this amount is available through official development assistance. This means that we must find alternative funding sources to finance the construction of necessary urban infrastructure. Concrete actions are needed to implement the recommendations of the Secretary General’s 2018 quadrennial report to create long-term and predictable financing mechanisms for the implementation and monitoring of the New Urban Agenda.
Third, we must scale up development assistance and capacity building to developing countries and support them in implementing the recommendations of the new urban agenda and help them achieve the goal of building sustainable cities and other priorities of SDG 11.
Finally, Effective South-South and triangular cooperation could facilitate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda through the exchange of knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned as well as technology transfer. Cooperation may take place around issues critical for addressing city pollution, sustainability and capacity building in urban planning, infrastructure development and waste management, as well as revenue generation by local governments.
For some time now, Bangladesh has floated the proposal of creating a platform for Finance, Foreign and Development Ministers of countries in the global south within the South-South cooperation framework. The ministers may meet periodically to discuss Global South’s shared development pathways, and shape cooperation to meet their common aspirations.
Bangladesh is looking forward to working with partners to make the platform a reality.
I thank you.