Over 170 legislators from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America attending the Fifth Global Parliamentarians on Habitat Forum in Morocco last week adopted the Rabat Declaration advocating debt relief to help finance housing and urban infrastructure.
The declaration also recommended the creation of a financing mechanism to cope with natural disasters.
The lawmakers supported the strengthening of UN-HABITAT, especially in its slum upgrading initiatives and the establishment of a database on good practices in urban development and improvement of informal settlements. The senators from the Philippines cited the need to create a legal balance between the right to private property and the right to adequate housing for those living in slums.
The European group said it had compiled and compared legal provisions for housing in five European countries.
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said currently, more than one billion people were living in slums and inner cities and that if present trends continued, this figure could reach 2 billion by 2030.
“This would imply that one in four people on this planet would be living without adequate shelter and without access to clean water and sanitation. These figures are only the tip of the iceberg when we consider that over half of all slum dwellers are under the age of 25,” she said.
Mrs. Tibaijuka commended the work of the parliamentarians and urged their active engagement in realising the slums and water targets of the Millennium Development Goals.
The meeting also discussed rural-urban migration and migration from southern countries to the more prosperous northern regions. They also discussed the wave of arson attacks in French cities, which many attributed to a lack of decent housing and poor employment prospects for young people.