UN-HABITAT and UNESCAP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday, 26 February 2004 in a bid to ensure that the two organizations work more effectively towards reducing urban poverty in Asia. The Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is the regional arm of the UN Secretariat in Asia and the Pacific.
Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, and UNESCAP Executive Secretary, Mr. Kim Hak-Su, signed the agreement signifying a commitment to closer cooperation between the UN agencies in improving the living conditions of the urban poor in the Asia-Pacific region. The collaboration is imperative if the UN is to effectively meet the Millennium Development Goals.
“With approximately 800 million people still living in poverty in Asia and the Pacific, one out of two of every slum-dwellers in the world lives in Asia" said Mr. Kim. "The proportion of urban poor will increase unless responses are strengthened in both urban and rural areas."
"This agreement will ensure better coordination of national, rural and urban development strategies in order to minimize migration," said Mrs. Tibaijuka. "The collaboration will enable governments, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and all other Habitat Agenda partners to work jointly to upgrade slums and provide the urban poor with decent shelter, clean water and adequate sanitation."
Joint projects between UN-HABITAT and UNESCAP are already planned for 2004, including a Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries to be held in Shanghai, China, in April before UNESCAP's 60th Commission Session.