Erbil, 11 June 2021 - UN-Habitat’s Executive Director (ED), Maimunah Mohd Sharif, met with H.E. Mr. Sasan Awni, Minister of Municipalities and Tourism of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), thanking the KRG for its tireless rebuilding efforts and discussed future collaboration opportunities.
H.E. Mr. Awni acknowledged UN-Habitat’s engagement since 2014 in humanitarian and early urban-recovery efforts in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), supporting internally displaced persons (IDPs) through shelter provision and reconstruction efforts. Mrs. Sharif emphasized how in the past three years, the agency has shifted its focus on supporting the return of displaced Iraqi to their areas of origin. While it will continue to provide development assistance in liberated governorates, in the years to come UN-Habitat will be initiating more normative and technical programs. She spoke about the need to raise the attention of donors towards the need to strengthen urban planning capacities within the Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism so that they can effectively perform their day-to-day while planning for a more sustainable and more equitable urban future.
During her discussion with Mr. Daban Shadala, Deputy Head of Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), Mrs. Sharif exchanged thoughts on water management issues affecting the region, sustainable returns of displaced persons and the importance of cultural tolerance. They agreed that launching capacity development initiatives concurrently with UN-Habitat’s urban recovery projects can make development efforts more sustainable and durable.
In her meeting with H.E. Mr. Zagros Fatah, Deputy Minister of KRG’s Ministry of Planning (MOP), Mrs. Sharif acknowledged the excellent level of collaboration between MOP and UN-Habitat and the past co-financing of three successful projects in the region. She was particularly glad to hear about the Ministry’s renewed interest in the Building Codes that were jointly developed in 2018 to enhance climate change considerations and energy consumption. They then discussed the opportunity to work jointly on the drafting of a Regional Spatial Plan and the establishment of an Urban Observatory in KR-I to monitor and analyse urban data and trends.
In his conversation with the Executive Director, Mr. Zagros Fatah stated the importance of being able to provide affordable housing to the most vulnerable members of society by attracting private sector investments. He was particularly interested in Mrs. Sharif’s experience as former Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia, in establishing digitisation systems for land management, building control and revenue generation.
After a brief tour of the Citadel of Erbil, Mrs. Sharif then visited the neighbourhood of Kurani Ainkawa where UN-Habitat and UNDP, in 2010-11, led an ambitious urban upgrading project in partnership with the KRG. In the Community Centre that was inaugurated in 2016, Mrs. Sharif met with H.E. Mr. Omed Khoshnaw, Governor of Erbil, who recognised the truly transformational value of this project and expressed his hope that such interventions can be replicated in other areas. They discussed building capacity opportunities in urban planning and data analysis. Mr. Massoud Karash, Deputy Governor of Erbil, voiced his concern for the lack of water and electricity that is currently affecting this region, stressing the need for an integrated approach to the provision of basic services in urban and rural areas.
For more information please contact:
Mr. Aryan Star Muheddin
Communications Specialist, UN-Habitat
Mobile number: +964 (0)751 103 9494