2nd session of UN Habitat Assembly held, IMCC invited to attend

The second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly was held from June 5 to 9, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. More than 80 ministers and vice ministers attended the session, including Ni Hong, Chinese minister of housing and urban-rural development, together with 5,000 delegates from around the world. 

As the highest global decision-making body of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the United Nations Habitat Assembly convenes every four years. It mainly focuses on the implementation of relevant policies and studies important issues affecting the human settlement environment and the progress of urbanization.


The theme of the session was “A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises.” It aimed to raise the attention to urbanization and urban issues, promote effective multilateralism to support local action, advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda, and provide policy guidance for promoting sustainable development of human settlements and urbanization.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif described the assembly as an important platform for all parties to come together to discuss strategies for sustainable urban development, and expected it to help accelerate the realization of the common goal of sustainable urban development.


UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif delivers a speech at the session.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out in a video address at the opening ceremony that cities are on the front line for realizing the SDGs, the New Urban Agenda, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. By 2050, the urban population worldwide will exceed 2 billion. The secretary-general’s blueprint for action, Our Common Agenda, calls for a reinvigorated and more inclusive multilateralism, recognizing the pivotal role cities and other local authorities play, in addressing the challenges ahead.

“Such multilateralism is vital to help cities to play their part”, he said, “to ensure the finance, information and support is in place for them to become resilient, inclusive and sustainable.” Although cities have always spawned the ideas and innovations that have led human development, they’re more important than ever, “amidst a world in crisis”, he added.

In his video remarks to the Habitat Assembly, UN General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi outlined key ways that cities can become more sustainable. First, he pointed to the importance of compiling comprehensive data and statistics. Secondly, governments must fully assess urban development in the context of climate change, health, food security and water supply.

“But what we urgently need is a mindset shift. From a business-as-usual planning and operation, to one aiming at real sustainability transformation”, he said. “This means strengthening the science-policy interface, advancing evidence-based solutions, and approaching our goals holistically.”

Ni Hong, minister of housing and urban-rural development of China, spoke at a plenary meeting, saying that it is the common responsibility of all countries in the world to respond to the challenges of global crises and build healthier, safer and more livable cities. China will continue to support the work of UN-Habitat, and work with UN-Habitat to promote the implementation of the Global Development Initiative and the “New Urban Agenda”, and make unremitting efforts to realize a sustainable urban future.



As an NGO, the IMCC was granted special consultative status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July 2017. As early as 2014, the IMCC was a member of the drafting committee of UN-Habitat’s “New Urban Agenda” and a member of the steering committee of the “World Urban Campaign.”

IMCC Executive Director Jin Lan said, “After nine years, I saw this session review the New Urban Agenda and adopt a vision for future urban development. I am very encouraged by UN-Habitat’s global certification for sustainable development. We have the confidence to work with UN-Habitat to be a disseminator of culture among cities in the world, and jointly promote the realization of the SDGs of the UN. The SDGs are not only the goals set for 2030, but also the direction of the world’s urban sustainable development.”



Jin was invited to Nairobi to participate in the session, but failed to make the trip because of COVID-19 reinfection. Instead, she attended the session online in Shenzhen through a dedicated link.



Thematic debates and discussions during the assembly focused on the following topics:

Universal access to affordable housing: Member states were encouraged to explore mechanisms to achieve the universal right to adequate housing and move towards removing existing barriers to affordable housing.

Urban climate action: To achieve the global commitment to stay within 1.5˚C limit on rising temperatures by 2030, member states were encouraged to explore realistic urban pathways for climate action.

Urban crises recovery: Current crises are increasingly more urban, with cities very often serving as the main places of arrival for displaced people. Member states are encouraged to empower cities to respond to urban crises and support national recovery efforts.

Localization of the SDGs: The assembly looked at local actions needed to advance the implementation of SDGs to meet the 2030 Development Agenda targets. Member states were also invited to explore financial mechanisms to ensure resources are directed toward urban development and reach local levels.

Prosperity and local finance: To accelerate the achievement of SDGs, respond to urban crises, advance urban climate action, and ensure adequate and affordable housing for all, cities need policies and fiscal resources. Member states were invited to explore policies and market mechanisms to ensure financial flows directed towards urban development and reach local levels. 

Sources: un.org, unhabitat.org, Xinhua