Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured and privileged to participate at the opening of the 13th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development to report on the outcome of the twentieth session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) held during April 4 to 8, 2005 in Nairobi. I thank H. E. Ambassador Ashe, the Chair of this session for his presence at our Governing Council.
As we prepare for our deliberations at this CSD session, let us remember that it was at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in its paragraph 18 of the political Declaration, where Heads of States and Governments inserted shelter in WEHAB (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture, and Biodiversity) so that W was further amplified to stand for Water, Sanitation and Shelter or Human Settlements. This subsequently paved way for the CSD, at its 11th session to decide to focus on Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements as an entry point to tackle the MDG Goals and the Johannesburg Programme of Implementation (JPOI) during the 12th and 13th CSD cycle. This CSD session, the policy options and actions on water, sanitation and human settlements, is therefore of central importance to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, adequate shelter for all and sustainable Human Settlements development in an urbanizing world.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The twentieth session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT, which met last week in Nairobi, was well attended. It attracted 827 delegates, including 92 Member States, of whom 48 are Official Members of the 58-Member Governing Council. This amounts to 83% official attendance. There were also 39 representatives of Local Governments and their organizations, including the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) which is the global organ for a common voice of local authorities. The United Nations Advisory Committee on Local Authorities (UNACLA) President, Mayor Jan Clos of Barcelona, attended in person. Also there were 92 representatives of NGOs as well as participants from the United Nations system, Inter Governmental Organisations, professional associations and the private sector.
This unprecedented attendance of our Governing Council by Member States and the Habitat Agenda partners underscores rising awareness of the challenges of urbanization and the important role of sustainable urbanization as a key to sustainable development. It also reflects the growing recognition that UN-HABITAT is now a fully-fledged Programme of the United Nations able and capable to deliver its mandate. The Governing Council adopted 22 resolutions. Many of them have implications on UN-HABITAT's work in the field of water, sanitation and human settlements, which are the subject matter of this thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable development. The Governing Council has sent a clear message to the CSD and other inter-governmental forum that the urban agenda must become an integral part of the international development agenda, and that UN-HABITAT's role as the focal point for this urban agenda must be recognised.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates,
The formal report of the Governing Council will be available soon to all member states. But allow me to list a few highlights that are relevant to our work at this CSD session.
In recognition of the importance of the themes of CSD-13 for the work programme of UN-HABITAT, the twentieth session of the Governing Council has adopted a resolution to guide UN-HABITAT's work in the Commission on Sustainable Development. I am pleased to present a copy of this resolution to the Commission on Sustainable Development, and request you all to incorporate the important elements of this resolution in your deliberations during the next two weeks. This resolution is attached to my statement being distributed to all participants at this session. (see Annex 1).
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished delegates,
As recommended in this resolution, the President of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT H.E. Ambassador Petr Kopriva, of The Chec Republic has prepared a Summary of the twentieth session of Governing Council of UN-HABITAT for the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. On behalf of the President of the Governing Council it is my honour to submit this summary in full to the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. (see Annex 2).
In summary, 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.
Human Settlements and Slums
Slum upgrading is critical to sustainable human settlements. In a world where nearly half the people live in urban areas, and nearly a third of them, about a billion people are living in most life threatening conditions in slums, it is important that we focus our attention on improving the lives of slum dwellers. In The Millennium Declaration, adopted by the General Assembly in September 2000, it was agreed that
"By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers as proposed in the "Cities Without Slums" Initiative".
The Governing Council spent a lot of time and effort deliberating this issue. However, given time limitations, it could not conclude the policy issue which I had presented for its consideration, namely; the need to harmonize the Slum Target with other targets for the Millennium Declaration Goals, and thereby provide a basis for establishing country level benchmarks.
As finally cited in the Annex of the MDG Road Map, (p. 24 of document A/56/326), the slum target is limited only to making significant improvements in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, without linking it to the "cities without slums initiative", as was the case in the actual Millennium Declaration Goal. The outcome is a very restrictive target which is far too modest. It covers only a fraction (10%) of the 1 billion slum dwellers already in existence by 2000. It also has a problem of being stated as a single global figure without country level benchmarks. Individual countries have no way of determining what their share is of the 100 million people targeted. Yet, according to our analyses and projections, as documented in the 2003 Global Report on Human Settlements, entitled "The Challenge of Slums", by 2020 there will be a total of 1.6 billion slum dwellers, if no action is taken to prevent the growth of new slums. This realization dictates a much broader and ambitious approach to the slum challenge.
It is our understanding and submission that actually, the Millennium Declaration referred to the 100 million in the context of the cities without slums initiative of UN-HABITAT and the World Bank, under our joint Cities Alliance Programme. Clearly, for cities to be without slums, not only must existing slums be upgraded but new ones must be prevented from emerging. Accordingly, one of the principles underpinning the Cities Without Slums initiative is that upgrading must also be complemented by policies and programmes to forestall the growth of future slums. It is predicated on the design of integrated city development strategies, focusing on the improved performance of local government in order to better manage future urban population growth and effectively carrying out basic land use planning and more effectively mobilizing local resources. From this perspective, the slum target as stated in the Millennium Declaration is ambitious enough because over and above the 100 million slum dwellers, it would also have to deal with the 500 million projected 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. The proposal before you is to endorse and recommend to the General Assembly that the Slum Target should be restated as "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.
As already pointed out, the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT discussed this matter at great length, but could not reach a conclusion mainly due to time constraints. Whilst there was more or less broad consensus that as stated the current target is inadequate, covering only 10% of the current worldwide slum population, some countries felt that to reopen negotiation on one goal could lead to re-opening the other goals contained in the Millennium Declaration. This, it was argued, might distract attention away from implementation of the goals which is more important than mere political discussions of the goals. Others maintained a new debate could even lead to dropping slum dwellers off the Millennium agenda altogether, and some countries feared that a more ambitious target would be unattainable. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a large group of developing countries found unacceptable that the current target is far too modest and that progress is hardly measurable in the absence of benchmarks that reflect each country's responsibility and favoured a restatement of the target as proposed. UN-HABITAT clarified that there was minimal risk to re-open discussion of other MDG goals since these are already stated correctly as proportions. Also, restating the goal in "proportion" is not synonymous to adjusting it upwards since the Millennium declaration endorsed the Cities Without Slums Initiative of UN-HABITAT and the World Bank.
While the discussions at the Governing Council were inconclusive, it was clear that many delegations felt that more debate on this target is needed. I therefore trust that this Commission, which is focused on policy decisions and practical actions on sustainable human settlements development offers another opportunity to deliberate on the slum target, so that after proper deliberation it could forward its recommendation to the Heads of State Summit to review the MDGs that will take place in September 2005, in New York. To facilitate your discussion of the matter I have appended to this statement the Questions and Answers (Q&A) on the subject. (see Annex III).
Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF)
Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
Another topic that was extensively discussed at the Governing Council is the financing of human settlements development. Sustainable human settlements development requires that developed countries fulfil their commitment of the Monterrey consensus, to enable developing countries, particularly countries in Africa, to meet the time-bound targets of JPOI and MDG. Heavy indebtedness of many developing countries especially LDCs and Africa, is impeding their capacity to address housing and urban development issues. Increased international development assistance and debt relief need to be considered for these countries to enable them to meet the JPOI and MDG targets.
The "Commission for Africa" popularly known as the Blair Commission, has also recognized the importance of rapid urbanization in Africa and the need to focus on financing slum upgrading and urban infrastructure. Specifically, the Commission for Africa (CFA) Report has identified 2 key challenges for Africa in the field of growth and poverty reduction, namely; (1) containing the HIV/AIDS pandemic and (2) urban development. The Blair report is proposing the capitalization of the Slum Upgrading Facility to a tune of USD 250 million per annum over 5 years to provide a basis for leveraging private sector resources to invest into decent affordable housing and basic urban services infrastructure - to avert what it calls "chaotic urbanization".
The slum upgrading facility of UN-HABITAT is a technical advisory facility designed to assist national and local governments and community organizations in the development of their own slum upgrading, low cost housing, and urban development projects. It supports projects that can attract capital primarily from domestic capital markets, utilizing, where necessary, seed capital grants and bringing in existing guarantee and credit enhancement facilities. I was pleased to note that the Chair's summary of the inter-governmental Preparatory meeting of the CSD-13 has recognized the Slum Upgrading Facility as an important mechanism to finance sustainable human settlement development. The UN-HABITAT Governing Council Resolution on Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF) is attached as Annex IV for your further information.
UN-HABITAT Water and Sanitation Trust Fund
Apart from SUF, UN-HABITAT also has established a Water and Sanitation Trust Fund after Johannesburg. Indeed Water and sanitation are first logical steps towards improving slums so the two initiatives complement each other. Target 10 and Target 11 of the MDGs move together especially in urban areas. Through its programmes in Africa and Asia, the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund of UN HABITAT demonstrates the partnership of UN-HABITAT with development finance institutions and is now supported by several donor Governments. The Water and Sanitation Trust Fund supports pro-poor approaches to ensure provision of water and sanitation in cities and towns of Africa and Asia. Special initiative to deliver the MDG targets on Water and Sanitation in secondary towns have been launched in the lake Victoria region in Africa and the Mekong Delta in Asia - both areas characterized by Least Developed Countries.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, let me congratulate Ambassador Ashe, the members of the bureau and the team at CSD secretariat for their excellent efforts to guide the CSD-13 session to meaningful and practical policy decisions and actions. . This first implementation cycle, after the Johannesburg summit, provides us an important opportunity to identify practical measures on global goals and targets related to water, sanitation and human settlements. I would like to end by making a fervent appeal to all of you here today, to consider the UN-HABITAT governing council outcomes in your deliberations and join forces in building a global consensus for meeting critical challenges of this century related to human settlements. I cannot overemphasize the fact that water and sanitation can only be delivered in the context of human settlements. This places UN-HABITAT at centre-stage in follow-up of the policy decisions to be made at CSD 13. We promise to play our part.
I also call upon you to consider harmonizing the slum target with other targets. I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks which are in any case minimal. I wish you success at this important forum.
Thank you for your kind attention.