As part of its expansion programmes so as to effectively address human settlements concerns globally, UN-HABITAT on Monday officially opened a new office in Warsaw to serve central and eastern Europe.
Coinciding with World Habitat Day commemorated in cities around the world on 2 October, the opening of the office in Warsaw was presided over by Poland’s Minister of Construction, Mr. Antoni Jaszczak, and attended by top government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives of the United Nations and universities.
The director of the office is Mr. Marek Bryx, former Head of Department at the Warsaw School of Economics, and a former Secretary of State. He will be assisted by Ms. Gwendoline Mennetrier, a seasoned UN-HABITAT Human Settlements Officer.
The office was established in response to a generous offer of the Polish government which will fund it. It will enable UN-HABITAT to work better in the region, coordinating with interested countries in central and Eastern Europe. It will do advocacy and networking work in the sub-region, organize workshops and ministerial meetings and prepare regional programmes for European Union funding.
Poland itself is confronted with growing urbanisation problems stemming from increasing rural migration into its towns and cities, and a legislative framework which needs to be improved.
The Warsaw Office will also help countries in the region develop national and local capacities to systematically redress urban poverty and adequate shelter shortfalls. It will also help to promote the Habitat Agenda and the UN-HABITAT global campaigns on secure tenure and urban governance. It will also seek to improve the flow of human settlements information and boost policy making, planning and management.
One of the first tasks of the new office will be to set up a regional Advisory Council of government officials responsible for housing and human settlements.