UN Secretary-General named an Indian expert to address a high-level independent panel on urban poverty alleviation and advocacy for slum dwellers. The panel shall assess and enhance effectiveness of the agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development.
Sheela Patel, a Padmashree awardee, is Founder and Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and a global expert on urban poverty alleviation and advocacy for slum dwellers.
Patel founded SPARC in 1984, a Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation focused on housing and infrastructure rights for the urban poor.
During this time, Patel has played a key role in the expansion of Mahila Milan, a federation of collectives of women living in slums across India, the UN said in a statement.
Patel is also the Chair of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), an international network of poor people's organisations and supporting non-governmental organisations active in Asia and Africa.
Patel received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award from the Synergos Institute in recognition of her extensive efforts to ameliorate urban poverty, and the Padmashree, the fourth-highest civilian award in India for her work on urban poverty alleviation.
Patel is part of the eight-member panel that will report directly to the Secretary-General.
"We live in the century of unprecedented urban growth. For the first time in history, more than half of the world's population is living in cities," Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, adding that this gives special significance to the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which was held in October 2016 in Ecuador.
Participating states adopted the New Urban Agenda as a collective vision and political commitment to promote and realise sustainable urban development, rethinking how cities are planned, managed and inhabited.
As part of the follow-up and review of the Habitat III outcome and in light of the New Urban Agenda, the Secretary-General was requested to submit an evidence-based and independent assessment of UN-Habitat to the General Assembly during its 71st session.
The independent assessment, to be submitted by the panel, will contain recommendations on enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and oversight of UN-Habitat.