Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured and privileged to participate in this high level segment
to review the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the
Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). At the
outset, allow me to express my heartfelt sympathy and solidarity to the
governments and peoples of those Asian and the East African countries,
who were affected by the terrible tragedy of the Tsunami that struck the
region several weeks ago. This tragedy is a grim reminder to all of us
of the vulnerability of coastal regions, particularly the Small Island
I would also like to thank the host Government of Mauritius for their
warm welcome and hospitality. Mauritius presents an excellent example
of human settlements development that successfully incorporates a heritage
of rich cultural diversity and racial harmony. I see, reflected in this
example, the theme of the recent World Urban Forum organised by UN-HABITAT
in Barcelona in September 2004, and I am pleased to see that Mauritius
has adopted an inclusive and integrated process of development.
With regard to the issues before this conference, UN-HABITAT has long
recognized that SIDS suffer from peculiar disadvantages associated with
small size, marginalization, remoteness and vulnerability to natural disasters.
Those factors render the human settlements of SIDS susceptible to forces
outside their control, as the dramatic, tragic and unprecedented cataclysm
of the recent earthquake and tsunami has demonstrated. This event should
serve to strengthen the focus of this meeting on adopting strategies that
would mitigate the effects of natural disasters on SIDS and reduced the
vulnerability of SIDS through foresight, planning and other preventive
Immediately following the disaster, UN-HABITAT Programme Managers in
Sri Lanka and Indonesia commenced working, in close collaboration with
other United Nations agencies and programmes, to assess the damage and
develop programmes for immediate, intermediate and long-term recovery
and reconstruction. UN-HABITAT has prioritized human settlements issues
in the inter-agency response to facilitate the transition from humanitarian
relief to long-term recovery and reconstruction.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to focus your attention on sustainable human settlements developments
in SIDS. This has not received the adequate attention that it deserves.
I wish to share with you my conviction that the struggle for achieving
the objectives of the Barbados Programme of Action, the Johannesburg Plan
of Implementation (JPOI) and the Millennium Development Goals will have
to be waged in human settlements - in our cities, towns and villages.
It is at this level that people-centered development takes place. It is
at this level that actions need to be coordinated and managed. It is at
this level that the global goals and policies become operational realities.
It is here that local actions must and can deliver global goals.
Shelter is one of the basic necessities for survival. The Barbados Programme
of Action called for improved availability of shelter and the improved
economic and environmental quality of human settlements (Paragraph 34
A and 34 C). Two years after the adoption of the Programme of Action,
the international community reaffirmed its commitment to human settlements
development in SIDS in the adoption of the Habitat Agenda at Istanbul
in 1996. Paragraph 204 Z (bb) of Habitat Agenda states as follows:
“Implementing the commitments of the international community
to the special needs and vulnerabilities of human settlements in small
island developing Stares, in particular by providing effective means,
including, adequate, predictable, new and additional resources, for human
settlements programmes, in accordance with the Declaration of Barbados
and on the basis of the relevant provisions of the Programme of Action
for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States”.
I would like to urge all of you to include this important dimension in
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Given the challenges of sustainable human settlements development in
SIDS, we need a fundamental change in our approach – we need a strategy
that is workable, realistic and will make a difference in the lives of
the people. In the remaining few minutes of the time allotted to me, I
would like to highlight a few key emerging challenges facing the international
community and SIDS in their efforts to fully and effectively implement
the Programme of Action.
First key challenge
A first key challenge is the rapid growth of urbanisation in SIDS and
the urbanisation and feminization of Poverty. In the decade since we met
in Barbados, SIDS have become increasingly urban. Of the 52 million people
in SIDS, 30 million (or 58 percent) live in urban areas. Of these, nearly
8 million or about 25% are slum dwellers. Let us ask ourselves if we have
recognized this important dimension in our deliberation and if not let
us reflect on it.
Sustainable development of SIDS must include the provision of basic services.
This requires thinking beyond slum upgrading to comprehensive development
of human settlements that include urban planning, secure tenure, and the
provision of basic infrastructure and services. As part of this effort,
UN-HABITAT launched its campaign for secure tenure in the Caribbean and
in the Small Island Developing States in the Pacific. I am confident that
with the support of the national governments and local authorities, the
follow-up actions will be implemented as planned.
Regrettably, the international community support for slum upgrading is
inadequate. There is a need to increase the Overseas Development Assistance
(ODA) for slum improvement and to develop strategies to mobilize additional
domestic resources. UN-HABITAT is in the process of establishing a Slum
Upgrading Facility to field test innovative, local and pro-poor infrastructure
and housing finance mechanisms to kick-start this process.
Second key challenge
A second key challenge for SIDS is its ability to deal with human settlements
in emergency situations created by both natural cataclysmic events and
conflict. Natural disasters compound the problems of the economic and
social fragility of SIDS. Hurricanes, tropical cyclones and tsunamis destroy
transport, telecommunications and power infrastructure, wreck agriculture,
tourism and other sectors of the fragile economies of SIDS and destroy
shelter, particularly of the very poor, rendering thousands homeless,
as recently witnessed recently in Grenada, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas,
Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
We at UN-HABITAT strongly believe that disaster risk reduction is a foundation
for sustainable development of human settlements in the SIDS. It is a
collective responsibility, which should be facilitated by solid political
commitment and sound institutional support. UN-HABITAT works through the
Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs and sister agencies of the
United Nations to bridge the gap between relief and development by combining
technical expertise and human resources on the ground. We have worked
in many countries and with local authorities in Bayamo, Cuba; New Amsterdam,
Guyana; Cap Haitien, Haiti, Dili in Timor-Leste, and Praia in Cape Verde.
In each case, we have promoted the UN-HABITAT’s concept of sustainable
relief that has been developed out of the recognized need to address relief
efforts within the framework of longer-term development strategies.
Third key challenge
A third key challenge is related to the ability to cope with water supply
and sanitation for the poor and the marginalised in SIDS. Water supply
for human settlements in SIDS has been a persistent problem and many SIDS
are vulnerable to increased warming, dryness, and flooding. Sea-level
rise increases the cost/vulnerability of infrastructure and coastal resource-based
industry. In addition, several industries—such as tourism and recreation
- the principal industry in many island economies—are threatened
as a result of the water supply crisis.
During the past few days in Mauritius, the UN-HABITAT’s Water for
African Cities Programme has organized a Workshop on Values-based Water
and Sanitation Education. Our aim in this workshop, and similar workshops
held elsewhere, is to build the capacity of local authorities and other
stakeholders in water demand management. It is important first to conserve
the available resources and minimize wastes before we take up augmentation
on the supply side.
At the Johannesburg Summit, I had made a pledge to bring significant
pro-poor investment through our regional programmes on water and sanitation
in Africa and Asia. With this objective, I established the Water and Sanitation
Trust Fund of UNHABITAT in October 2003. I am pleased to say that this
pledge has now been redeemed and together with the Asian Development Bank,
the African Development Bank and other partners, we plan to bring $500
million pro-poor investment to Asian cities, and nearly $100 million in
African cities and towns. It is my hope and wish that this programme can
be extended to SIDS with the support of relevant regional banks and development
Fourth key challenge
A fourth key challenge relates to improved urban governance in SIDS.
Governments need to recognize that the process of urbanization in SIDS
is irreversible. We have to act pro-actively to improve the living standards
of the urban poor through increased investment and improved urban management
practices and processes. We at UN-HABITAT have learned that good governance
is essential to the effective implementation of the Programme of Action.
Good Urban Governance is essential to the promotion of accountability
and transparency as it responds to and benefits all sectors of society,
including the urban poor and it aims to eradicate all forms of exclusion.
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to once again express my sympathy for the hundreds of thousands
of grieving families affected by the loss of their loved ones, and the
millions of people displaced and facing the loss of their livelihoods,
their homes, and their peace of mind following the disastrous earthquake
and Tsunami of the 26th of December.
UN-HABITAT has joined other UN agencies in the recovery process, and
continue its mission to support through immediate measures, the transition
from emergency to reconstruction and development in those states most
I wish to take this opportunity to announce the formation of a “
Tsunami human settlements recovery facility” which will accumulate
financial resources, that will be allocated for specific programmes in
Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Somalia and Thailand, and in other affected countries
as requests for UN-HABITAT presence continue to emerge. UN-HABITAT has
allocated seed capital of One Million US Dollars to kick start this facility.
I am hopeful that donors and all members of the international community
who would wish to use UN-HABITAT expertise to fast-track recovery assistance
to the affected areas to contribute to the UN-HABITAT recovery facility.
I am pleased to state that UN-HABITAT has been approached by private sector
housing and real estate developers to contribute to this fund, and use
UN-HABITAT expertise in the recovery process.
UN-HABITAT will use this recovery facility to focus on five key areas
of immediate recovery need in human settlements in these countries, namely:
1. Emergency clean-up and environmental remediation
2. Restoration of critical infrastructure, including water and sanitation
3. Emergency and transition shelter
4. Critical land use planning, and
5. Restoration of livelihoods through employment generation.
These five focus areas represent the starting point for longer term reconstruction
of human settlements; they are the building blocks for the human settlements
recovery process, and, the vehicle through which the transition from relief
to sustainable development, is driven.
Further, it is essential that we do not limit our efforts only to immediate
relief, but also develop the basis for long-term development. We need
to take measures to ensure that human settlements become less vulnerable
to such disasters in the future.
It is critical, therefore, that agencies such as UN-HABITAT, involve
themselves at this early stage to ensure that these foundations are built.
The presence of UN-HABITAT programme managers in the affected countries
has placed the agency at a comparative advantage to engage both tin the
immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts. The Tsunami Human Settlement
Recovery Facility will further augment UN-HABITAT efforts in the affected
In conclusion, let us remind ourselves that ten years after the adoption
of the Programme of Action, our achievements fall short of the expectations
of SIDS. As we review our achievements and debate on the language, there
are millions of poor people in the cities and towns of SIDS who are denied
the ability to fulfil basic human needs such as access to adequate shelter
and clean drinking water. SIDS, particularly the LDCs amongst them, are
also faced with chronic and stubborn disasters such as HIV/AIDS and abject
poverty, which are exacerbated by rapid urbanisation. The Tsunami should
not make us forget the silent disasters packaged in the MDGs but on the
contrary increase our resolve to act. UN-HABITAT stands ready to play
its role in this process and to move the implementation of the Programme
of Action forward.
I thank you for your kind attention and support.