UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, attended the Citizens of the Earth Conference (Citoyens de la Terre) from 2-3 February, at the invitation of French President Jacques Chirac.
During round-table on Strengthening Environmental Governance, Mrs. Tibaijuka said that to understand the present crisis, it was necessary to refer to history to build a strong infrastructure to face environmental challenges. She reminded participants of the first UN conference on human environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, where environment was defined by its two pillars; the natural environment and the built environment This gave birth to two respective UN organizations - UNEP and UN-HABITAT. Mrs. Tibaijuka highlighted the plight of over 1 billion slum dwellers living in large cities and facing many challenges and said that the built up environment is a critical factor that must be considered when dealing with the present global environmental crisis.
Prior to the conference Mrs. Tibaijuka held meetings with Mr. Marc Giacomini, Deputy Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in charge of the United Nations and international organizations, and Mr. Jérome Pasquier, Deputy Director in charge of international cooperation and development. The discussions addressed current issues of climate change including cities that are vulnerable to environmental disasters. Mrs. Tibaijuka indicated her support to the new taxation mechanisms proposed by President Chirac as an inevitable and necessary means to generate support to disaster preparedness and management in zones at risk, particularly in developing countries. She made an appeal to France to increase her contribution to UN-HABITAT.