Your Excellency, Mr. Mwai Kibaki
|Chairman of the Committee of Permanent Representatives Ambassador of Poland Wojciech Jasinski |
Honourable Minister of Lands and Housing, Mr. Amos Kimunya
Honourable Minister for Roads and Public Works, Mr. Raila Odinga
Permanent Representative of Kenya to UN-HABITAT, Mr. Solomon Karanja
Honourable Minister for Coordination of Environmental Affairs of Mozambique, Mr. John William Kachamila
Under-Secretary General Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka
Mayor Dick Wathika Nairobi City Council
Mayor Zhang Changping, Xiamen Municipal People's Government in China
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
In a rapidly urbanizing world, where already half of the world’s population lives in cities and towns, rural to urban migration is one of the most pressing issues facing our world today. Cities and towns have always been centers of opportunity, but without adequate shelter and basic services, urban environments can also be some of the dangerous places on earth. In agreeing on the Millennium Development Goals, Governments pledged to improve the living conditions of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
While this challenge before us is not insurmountable, it does however require a radically different approach. Urban and rural areas need to be considered as part of the same interdependent space. Urban policies should take into account the fact that people in both urban and rural areas deserve the benefits of increasing urbanization. This requires leadership and resources for better services, infrastructure, good governance and employment opportunities for rural and urban populations alike.
This policy shift towards a more balanced approach to urbanization, goes against established patterns of development, and may not be easy. But it can help break the present vicious cycle of increasing rural poverty and slum proliferation. Projects such as this one in Kibera can show the way forward to countries trying to solve the urban slum challenge in an integrated way.
In my capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UN-HABITAT, I would like to congratulate you Mr. President on this most important initiative to upgrade the slums of Nairobi. Following your initiative on this World Habitat Day, let us all pledge to do our part to ensure adequate shelter for all.
And finally, in my capacity as Ambassador of Poland, I am pleased to inform you of the happy coincidence that today, in Warsaw, the launch of Kenya Week in Poland is currently taking place. I am very proud of this innovative event which will further strengthen the long-standing cultural, trade and tourism ties between our two countries. Be they rural - urban, or, north - south, these are indeed the ties that will bind our world to a sustainable future. Thank you.