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Minister of State in the Ministry of Water and Housing, Everald Warmington, has been elected President of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT) for the period 2009 to 2011.
Mr. Warmington said that he will use his position to focus the UN body on the needs of countries in Latin American and the Caribbean, including Jamaica. “As President, I will have to make sure that funds are put aside, to look keenly at our slum situation,” he stated.
In his new capacity, the State Minister will have the final say on the work to be undertaken by UN-HABITAT during the two years of his tenure. His signature will be required on all work programmes, draft resolutions, decisions on the location and financing of projects as well as the general operations of the Governing Council.
The Presidency of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT is selected on a regional basis, with member countries grouped according to regions. Jamaica is a member of the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC).
Mr. Warmington was nominated by GRULAC and seconded by Zambia on behalf of the African States, by Germany on behalf of the countries of the West, by Russia on behalf of Eastern Europe and by Pakistan on behalf of the Asian States.
Later this month, representatives from UN-HABITAT are expected to visit Jamaica to undertake a Rapid Urban Profiling Study on three urban areas. These are Montego Bay in St. James, May Pen in Clarendon, and Old Harbour Bay in St. Catherine.
“We will begin studies on those three areas to put a plan in place for improvement, then afterwards, we will be looking at financing,” Mr. Warmington informed.
UN-HABITAT will be training focal points in data collection with the aim of deciding on possible projects for the selected areas. Jamaica is one of four countries in the region where these studies are to be undertaken. The others are Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Haiti.
Mr. Warmington is also expected to travel to New York next month, to present the report of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly. There, he will meet with the President of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the UN Secretary General, to discuss the budget and the entire programme for UN-HABITAT for the next two years.
In the course of his duties, the State Minister will also be required to chair the World Urban Forum to be held next year in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. He noted that one of his first roles as President was to meet with delegations from several countries to discuss their proposals and projects during the 22nd sitting.
The Governing Council of UN-HABITAT meets every two years, to examine that body’s work as well as its relationships with its partners. Comprised of 58 member states, the Council is a high level forum of governments at the Ministerial level. UN-HABITAT is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities, with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
Mr. Warmington is the third representative from Jamaica to serve in an official capacity on the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT. Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, was elected as Chairman of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT during its eighth session from April 29 to May 10, 1985, and before that, served as Vice Chairman during its fifth session from April 26 to May 7, 1982.
The late Mrs. Gloria Knight also served on the Council as Rapporteur during the fourth session in 1981.

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