Philippines reaffirms commitment to housing and sustainable development

NAIROBI – Convening again after four years, the United Nations Habitat Assembly (UNHA), the main legislative body for global urban policy making, and the highest decision making body on sustainable urbanization and human settlements, is meeting here in Kenya to discuss and adopt resolutions that provide policy directions to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, and meet the Social Development Goals (SDG) targets and national commitments of the Paris Agreements on climate change.

With the theme “A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises,” I am honored to lead the Philippine delegation composed of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the UN EnvironmentP Progam (UNEP) and UN-Habitat, Marie Charlotte Tang; Second Secretary and Consul Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN-Habitat Maria Rosanna Josue; Attache and Deputy Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN Habitat Armaigne Grace Aquino, and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) ELUPDB Director Mylene Rivera.

As head of delegation, I delivered the Philippine national statement at the UNHA-2 Plenary Session, underscoring our country’s strong commitment to the development of affordable and adequate housing within inclusive, resilient and livable cities through policy reforms, institutional capacity-building and community engagement, including with local government units.

Indonesia-Philippines bilateral meeting

I also highlighted the flagship program of the Marcos administration – the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Housing (4PH) Program, which aims to significantly reduce the country’s housing deficit.

I was able to share the Philippine government’s initiatives on providing affordable and adequate housing at the High Level Session on Housing, “Achieving universal access to adequate housing through inclusive and stronger multilateralism,” and announced the Philippines planned hosting of our first Philippine Urban Forum (PhUF), this October, with the theme “Transforming our Cities & Building Resilient Communities,” where we seek to encourage and enhance the participation and support of various urban actors and stakeholders in the Philippine New Urban Agenda to promote sustainable urbanization.

The author delivering the Philippine national statement

Dr. Shipra Narang Suri of UN Habitat chaired the high level session while LSE Cities of the London School of Economics and Political Science Professor Ricky Burdett set the tone for the session.  The UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif stated that adequate housing is one of the transformative forces that can help the world overcome challenges posed by climate change, poverty and inequality. 

Other panelists included Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development Hon. Zachariah Mwangi Njeru; Bahrain Minister of Housing and Urban Planning Hon. Amna bint Ahmed Al Romaihi; French Development Agency (AFD) Deputy Head of Urban Development Audrey Guiral-Naepels; Mayor Berry Vrbanovic of Kitchener, Canada;  and Institute of the National Housing Fund for Workers of Mexico (Infonavit) Director General Carlos Martinez Velazquez. 

They also shared observations, national and local experiences, ranging from the central role of housing to development of the economy and welfare of inhabitants to the need for stronger and more inclusive multilateralism.

The participation of the Philippines at this year’s Assembly also made possible bilateral discussions with the Indonesian and Malaysian delegations and UN Habitat leaders and executives; brief interactions with Head of Delegations from France, Palestine, Switzerland, China, Egypt, Israel, and representatives from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities, among others.

In all, we reiterated that the Philippines stands ready to collaborate with all Member States, the UN-Habitat and partners in creating a better future for urban areas where no one is left behind.