By Magdalene Mukami

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – The first ever UN-Habitat Assembly in the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Monday brought together more than 3,000 delegates, including 40 ministers and high-level government representatives, from 116 countries.

Opening the summit — themed Innovation for a Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called on the UN agency to formulate strategies to transform cities and human settlements into “engines of economic growth and development” in a sustainable manner.

“I also urge member states to increase and honor their voluntary contributions to the UN-Habitat human settlements foundation, while at the same time encouraging those in a position to do so, to consider increasing non-earmarked funds to be part of the core budget of UN-Habitat,” Kenyatta said.

The Kenyan president also asked for assistance from the UN to realize affordable housing agenda in the East African nation of Kenya.

“I urge all of our partners to formulate strategies that will revolutionize institutions for urban development. This will enhance our capacity to confront and deal with urban challenges,” he added.

According to the UN and Kenyatta’s office in Nairobi, the assembly is replacing the UN Governing Council following the endorsement of the resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018.

The resolution established a new governance structure which upgraded UN-Habitat’s status to a universal body and created a 36-member board.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the executive director of UN-Habitat, said young men and women hold the key to realizing a collective ambition for a better urban future.