The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, today presented Bahrain's Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa with UN-HABITAT's top award for his efforts in improving the lives of the urban poor through better housing policies and urban development.
The Special Citation of the UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honour Award was presented by Mr. Ki-moon to the Prime Minister at the opening ceremony of ECOSOC which is currently meeting in Geneva.
The Secretary-General commended the Prime Minister saying that "Under the able leadership of your Highness, the Kingdom of Bahrain has made remarkable strides in reducing poverty. Over the past quarter of a century, Bahrain has transformed itself from a collection of rural villages into a thriving diversified economy while preserving the cultural heritage of the Kingdom." He congratulated Bahrain for making significant progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals in a sustainable manner. The Secretary-General concluded by reminding the delegates that "eradicating poverty is one of the biggest challenges of our times''.
UN-HABITAT, which is mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all, has awarded the Bahraini leader for his impressive efforts in lifting the living standards of all Bahrainis through an active focus on poverty alleviation and modernization while preserving the cultural heritage of his country. UN-HABITAT's Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, hailed Sheikh Khalifa for uplifting the housing standards for his country's poor.
"UN-HABITAT is proud to be associated with your success," stating that the organization had a long and constructive relationship with the Kingdom of Bahrain. "I am therefore witness to your sustained efforts in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the associated Millennium Development Goals of water and sanitation and slum upgrading in your country and at regional level." In her speech she applauded Bahrain's efforts under Sheikh Khalifa's leadership to increase the supply of housing units for citizens with very low incomes since 1971 and singled out the 2003 Royal Initiative to renovate and reconstruct dilapidated houses as a best practice that should be emulated by others.
In his acceptance speech, Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa thanked both the Secretary-General and Mrs. Tibaijuka for recognizing the efforts of Bahrain to implement the MDGs and its humanitarian objectives. He pointed out that credit must also be given to the King of Bahrain and its citizens. The Prime Minister then announced that Bahrain would be establishing an annual award, which would be overseen by UN-HABITAT, for research that supported the Habitat Agenda.
In conclusion, he stated that he looked forward to continuing the cooperation with UN-HABITAT and the United Nations in helping the world meet the Millennium Development Goals.