The meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development’s 13th session (CSD-13) 11 to 22 April 2005, marks the first major policy-setting conference since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. The meeting follows that of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT in Nairobi, Kenya, last week.
In a speech to delegates at the opening session, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT said: “The Governing Council has resolved that the Commission on Sustainable Development needs to recognize the role of UN-HABITAT as the designated focal point in the United Nations system for human settlements in the follow-up to the outcomes of that session and to look beyond the thirteenth session for its links with other themes to be considered at the Commission’s future sessions.
“Slum-upgrading is of key importance in this Commission on Sustainable Development cycle, and the urban dimension will continue to play a key role in the Commission’s future cycles. The Governing Council also resolved that UN-HABITAT should have a significant role at the Commission’s fourteenth session, where energy, climate and air quality are among the issues to be discussed,” she said.
The targets being discussed in New York include halving by 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation (MDG 7, Target 10) and significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 (MDG7, Target 11) – both tasks mandated to UN-HABITAT.
“This year’s CSD aims to turn political commitments into action. The policy options that governments are expected to agree on at CSD-13 will underpin our common endeavours in the coming years to meet the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation targets and commitments on water, sanitation and human settlements,” said the conference chair, Mr. John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda.
CSD-13 will build on last year’s session which reviewed progress and identified obstacles and constraints in achieving the international development goals and targets related to water, sanitation and human settlements contained in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
“These three issues encapsulate the silent humanitarian crisis in the world today, where roughly 4,000 children die each day of diarrheal diseases caused by poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water, and where the living conditions in crowded slums are exacerbating public health issues such as communicable diseases,” said Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
Referring to the slum target, Mrs. Tibaijuka said over and above the 100 million slum dwellers, it would also have to deal with an estimated 500 million new slum dwellers, bringing the total to 600 million between 1990 and 2020.
“If this is agreed, in order to introduce better clarity and avoid further misunderstanding, UN-HABITAT is recommending very strongly that the slum target be restated as a proportion, and not a figure, and thus allow country level benchmarks for local action, in pursuit of an agreed global goal,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
“The proposal before you is to endorse and recommend to the General Assembly that the Slum Target should be restated to read: ‘to halve, between 1990 and 2020, the proportion of slum dwellers in the urban population’. This wording harmonizes the slum target with all other targets, which are already stated as proportions and not absolute numbers, and allows each country to understand the scope of its responsibility, after first determining the scope of the problem,” she said.
See also: Address by Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT at Thirteenth Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, 11 April 2005