The 26th session of the Governing Council of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) opened on Monday in Nairobi with calls for hastening renewal of world’s urban centres.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta opened the biennial meeting that was attended by ministers, industry executives, urban planners and grassroots advocates to discuss a new urban agenda.

The five-day meeting will endorse a new action plan to promote sustainable urban development.

In his opening remarks, Kenyatta said urban renewal is at the heart of the UN 2030 agenda on inclusive development, peace and prosperity.

“The new urban agenda matters to everyone and presents a paradigm shift based on a clear vision on interconnection between economic growth and environmental sustainability,’’ Kenyatta said.

Kenyatta said that there was a renewed political goodwill to promote establishment of smart cities to accommodate a surging population of newcomers fleeing rural poverty.

“It is high time we created smart towns that are economically viable, socially livable, environmentally resilient and politically stable,” Kenyatta said.

He added that Kenya had prioritised investment in projects that accelerate urban renewal such as affordable housing for the poor, waste management and improved water supply.

The UN-Habitat reckons that half of the global population currently resides in cities while the developing world is recording the fastest rate of urbanization.

Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, urged world governments and corporations to join hands and invest in smart cities that promise better economic and health outcomes for residents.

“Investing in sustainable urbanisation is key to alleviate poverty, disease and social upheavals that blight big metropolises in the developing world,” Clos remarked. (Xinhua/NAN)

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