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UN-Habitat and MSDI unite to advance SDGs in the Asia-Pacific

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and Monash University to advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia-Pacific.

The MoU provides a framework for UN-Habitat and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) to cooperate particularly on urban planning, housing and land, water and climate change (SDGs 11, 6, 10 and 17).

UN-Habitat is the UN’s program dedicated to promoting socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all.

MSDI interim director Rod Glover notes that MSDI is increasingly looking beyond Australia, particularly to Asia-Pacific neighbours, meaning new strategic partnerships are crucial to achieve impact.

‘This partnership with UN-Habitat leverages MSDI’s expertise in research, enterprise and education and UN-Habitat’s expertise in urban policy development, regional inter-governmental exchange, and program implementation. We can address major urban challenges facing our neighbours better by working together’.

An immediate outcome of the MoU is that UN-Habitat now becomes a partner on the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) program that is led by MSDI. RISE is a five-year water and sanitation trial program with the mission to improve human, environmental and ecological health in urban informal settlements across the developing world through a new approach to the provision and use of water.

RISE program director Professor Rebekah Brown points out that more than one billion people are already living in informal settlements, and numbers are continuing to grow as more rural populations move to cities and urban areas.

‘About two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to be living in urban areas by 2050, and we know that lack of proper housing and poor infrastructure exacerbates all kinds of interrelated problems, from poverty to poor human and environmental health,’ Professor Brown said.

‘So we really need to re-think the ways we build and manage cities so that growth is sustainable and most importantly, leaves nobody behind. This means that sharing knowledge and expertise through global partnerships to strive for a better urban future is more important than ever’.

Another immediate outcome of the partnership is that UN-Habitat and RISE will now work together to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in the Pacific – which sets out a common vision and global standards for urban development. Implementing the New Urban Agenda is set to be major discussion point at this year’s Pacific Urban Forum, which will call on participating countries and institutions to make concrete commitments to implement strategies and action plans to help achieve the SDGs in the Pacific.

The fifth Pacific Urban Forum will be held from 1 – 3 July in Nadi, Fiji. Held every four years, the Forum is the premier regional event bringing together government representatives and urban development stakeholders from across the Pacific to engage in policy dialogue towards a sustainable urban future for the Pacific.  The Forum is being co-hosted by UN-Habitat, MSDI, RISE, the Government of Fiji, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.