The Rabat Declaration on Making Slums History was unanimously adopted by country delegations at the closing of the international conference held in Rabat, Morocco late November.
Delegates and adoption of the Rabat Declaration in Morocco 2012 © Julius Mwelu/UN-Habitat
The declaration reaffirms the irreversibility of urbanization and its positive impact in advancing human development and poverty reduction. It recognizes the need to promote inclusive slum upgrading and prevention strategies that go beyond physical and environmental improvements and ensure that slums are fully integrated into the political, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of cities with a view to reducing urban poverty and inequality.
Through the declaration signatories committed themselves to 10 key actions. Notably, these included formulating, implementing and promoting inclusive urban policies, legislation, and national housing strategies; increasing financial and human resources for slum upgrading and prevention; and strengthening national entities such as urban forums or habitat committees to facilitate multi-sectoral dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders in preparation for the Habitat III Conference and the new Global Housing Strategy.
The declaration was the culmination of three-days of intensive debates, discussions and negotiations. During the plenary sessions and workshops officials shared experiences with slum upgrading over the past two decades and sought to devise a strategy for revisiting the slum target of the Millennium Development Goals.
The target to halve the number of slum dwellers by 2020 is undoubtedly ambitious. The Honorable Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Nigeria, Ma A. I. Pepple, captured the sentiment in her remarks: "If you set your targets high it will spur you to act better than if they were low. If you are a high jumper each time they raise the bar you have to jump higher to get over it. It is a challenge that motivates you to perform better".
The conference closed with the Moroccan Minister of Housing and Urban planning M. Mohammed Nabil Benabdellah expressing gratitude UN-Habitat for its pivotal role in convening this global conference: "You are our cement, our bridge to bring us together".
Meanwhile, at the closing of the international conference on Making Slums History South Africa offered to host the follow-up conference in 2014.
The Deputy Minister for Human Settlements, Zoliswa Albertina Kota-Fredericks thanked the Government of Morocco and UN-Habitat "on behalf of AMCHUD for hosting a conference which has a bearing on improving the lives of slum dwellers."