Following nomination by the Secretary-General António Guterres, the General Assembly, on 22 December 2017, elected Maimunah Mohd Sharif of Malaysia as the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
She succeeds Joan Clos of Spain to whom the Secretary‑General is grateful for his dedicated service to the Organization. Mr. Clos led UN‑Habitat during the pivotal years when the world’s population became majority urban. During this time, he championed the development of a New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11), the first development goal focused on sustainable urbanization. His emphasis on urban planning and national urban policies has been widely appreciated and applied to plan and steer the world’s cities toward sustainability, economic and social progress and inclusion.
Ms. Sharif is currently Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia. Prior to her appointment as Mayor, she was the first woman to serve as President of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai in 2011. As mayor of a local authority, she leads the Municipal Council to achieve its vision of a “cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to work, live, invest and play”. She is a champion of Gender‑Responsive Participatory Budgeting to integrate gender perspectives into the governance process, as a tool to mainstream gender into budgetary and development policy and planning.
Ms. Sharif began her career as a Town Planner at the Municipal Council of Penang Island in 1985. In 2003, she was promoted to Director of Planning and Development, a position she held until November 2009. As Director, she was responsible for the preparation of structure and local plans, and directly involved in development control of Penang City projects and landscape development. She also led a team for the planning and implementation of the Urban Renewal Projects in George Town. In November 2009, she was entrusted as the first General Manager to establish George Town World Heritage Incorporated and manage the George Town World Heritage Site, which was inscribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in July 2008.
She holds a Bachelor of Science with honors in town planning studies from the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, United Kingdom, and a Master of Science in planning studies from the University of Science Malaysia. She is married and has two daughters.