The global observances for World Habitat Day in the Italian city of Naples began on Sunday 1 October 2006 with the opening of an exhibition that contextualized the development plans of the city within the larger context of urbanization all over the world. The exhibition was held in the 13th Century castle del’Ovo on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Early on Monday 2 October 2006, Mrs. Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, joined Mayor Rosa Iervolino Russo on a visit to a school in an underprivileged area that had recently been burnt and vandalized. On meeting the school children, Mrs. Tibaijuka expressed her solidarity with the people of Naples, pointing out that the UN stood for peace and security, and that on this particular day it was important for people everywhere to learn to live in harmony.
The World Habitat Day celebrations, which included seminars and debates on Cities, Magnets of Hope, were attended by over 300 particpants. At the opening ceremony, Mayor Rosa Iervolino Russo welcomed the delegates, pointing out how Naples shared many of the problems of cities all over the world which needed innovative inclusive social and economic strategies.
The President of the Province of Naples, Riccardo di Palma pointed out that the population of greater Naples had almost reached 4 million people. He therefore welcomed the catalytic role of the UN in raising the awareness of these local issues so that long term solutions could be found for the good of the people of Naples.
The relationship of the Italian Government with UN-HABITAT was highlighted by Vittorio Craxi, the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of Multi-lateral affairs. He emphasized that social equity was one of the fundamental premises of local democracy and inclusive cities. It was the only way to avoid any prospect of future social conflict in urban areas.
Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka began by reading the Un Secretary-General’s World Habitat Day message in which he reminded the delegates of the impending urban crisis. Mrs. Tibaijuka then continued in her address, to thank the Government of Italy and the Mayor not only for hosting the global observances but for their support of UN-HABITAT’s work. She pointed out that Italy was one of its main donors and she looked forward to a long and fruitful relationship. She reminded the delegates that urban migration was not a new phenomenon, it had always been the basis of expanding economies during the industrial revolution in Europe, North & South America and Australasia. This process was now repeating itself in Africa and Asia.
Each year, in order to encourage best practices on how to manage the urban environment, UN-HABITAT awards the Habitat Scroll of Honour during the World Habitat Day celebrations. This year, amongst the award winners who attended the Naples event, was Cardinal Renato Martino, who was recognized for his commitment to improving the plight of slum dwellers; the National Cities Conference Programme of Brazil, who won the award for promoting the participation of the poor in urban policy-making. The French firm Veolia Environnement and the Governorate of Alexandria, Egypt, received an award for their notable public-private sector collaboration to deliver solid waste management for the city of Alexandria.
In keeping with tradition, at the same ceremony, the Building and Social Housing Foundation presented its World Habitat Awards to the Johannesburg Housing Company for enabling the building of housing and the Aga Khan Foundation’s Building and Construction Improvement Programme in Pakistan.