Salga president Parks Tau File picture: Paballo Thekiso/Independent Media
Johannesburg – The South African Local Government Association (Salga) has congratulated its president Parks Tau on his appointment to the United Nations (UN) high-level independent panel to oversee the effectiveness of the UN-Habitat.

The UN-Habitat is a programme that promotes socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities.

The United Nations' panel announcement on Thursday morning follows the adoption of the New Urban Agenda at the Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, which is known as Habitat III, held in Quito, Ecuador, in October last year.

In making the announcement, the UN indicated that the independent panel assessment was a part of the follow-up and review of the Habitat III outcome and it would contain recommendations on enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency, accountability and oversight of the UN-Habitat. The assessment report would also serve as an input to a two-day High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly to be convened by the UN President of the General Assembly during the 71st session in September this year.

The meeting would further discuss the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the positioning of UN-Habitat in that regard.

Speaking shortly after the news of his appointment, Tau described his new role on the UN panel as an instrument to advance the interests of local government both on the local and international scale.

"Having committed to advocate for the location of local government at the centre of a changing world, the panel presents an opportunity to lead this agenda – hence it is a welcome platform by the local government sphere," Tau said in a statement.

"This specific agenda speaks to localising and financing the post-2015 Development Agenda, Developing a collaborative local coherence agenda on peace, safety and security, as well as leading a local narrative around migrancy, displacement and social cohesion."

Tau would be serving with other dignitaries in the panel, including architect Peter Calthorpe; the permanent representative of Indonesia to the UN Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani; the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo; the founder and director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres Sheela Patel; Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development of Mexico Rosario Robles; the permanent representative of the Slovak Republic to the UN Ambassador František Ružicka; and Ponsto Sekatle, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Lesotho.