Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, hailed Canada's municipalities saying the recent successes they have achieved provided a lesson for local authorities around the world.
Giving the opening address to more than 3000 gathering of Mayors and elected officials at the 68 th Annual Conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) held 3-6 June 2005 in St-John' Newfoundland, Mrs Tibaijuka said FCM's work was impressive.
She congratulated it's president, Mayor of New Glasgow Ann MacLean for FCM's recent success in outlining a role for local government within Canada 's International Policy Statement, and recognised it as a model for other countries. “Yours will be an invaluable contribution in assessing how Canadians should best face the challenge of building democratic societies, assisting countries in conflict, and exchanging expertise and innovation with the rest of the world.”
Mrs. Tibaijuka cited FCM's partnerships with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation as examples of local governments leading the way to delivering “out-of-the box” solutions to the challenges posed by urban sustainability.
She also recognised the bold leadership offered by Prime Minister Paul Martin and Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities John Ferguson Godfrey in implementing the New Deal for Cities and Communities. “This initiative has at long last recognised that local governments are not simply an appendage of the provinces, but a proper sphere of government unto itself.”
Noting that the UN focus on urban issues began in Vancouver 30 years ago, Mrs Tibaijuka challenged the participants to return to Vancouver in 2006 for the 3 rd World Urban Forum to celebrate UN-HABITAT's progress and set an agenda for the future.
“This is why I invite you all to be Mayor Campbell's guests in Vancouver for the Third Session of the World Urban Forum where we must dedicate our energies to urgently reversing the developing world's headlong plunge into urban poverty”, she concluded.
In her speech, Mayor Maclean stressed the importance of partnerships. “We're pleased that both the Prime Minister, and Minister Godfrey, came here today to speak to us, bringing with them a message of partnership. We appreciate the Prime Minister's recognition of municipalities as being a ‘crucial order of government' and that he is dedicated to making local governments true partners in implementing the national agenda,” she said.