UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka last week gave a lecture at the Warsaw School of Economics, outlining the crucial role of urbanisation to staff and students of the prestigious Polish institution.
Speaking to the more than 400 students, as well as members of faculties headed by the Rector of the School Professor Adam Budnikowski, representatives of central institutions and media, Mrs. Tibaijuka underlined economic dimension of urbanisation phenomena.
“Cities drive national economies in the industrialised countries and even nations in economic output” the Executive Director adding that it may be observed also in the developing world, where cities generate a large share of national income. Importance of the cities for national economic and social development cannot be forgotten, especially by the future elites.
However, the Executive Director pointed out, the paradox is that cities become also a locus of excruciating poverty and deprivation. The miserable life of a growing number of slums dwellers, deprived of the most basic amenities requires immediate action. The negative impact on environment by the cities, which are already consuming 75% of the world’s energy and produce significant proportion of the world’s waste, cannot be underestimated, either. Noting that the urban crisis – or the slum crisis – was indeed a crisis in governance, Mrs. Tibaijuka said basing on its experience, UN-HABITAT calls upon creation of inclusive cities, developed in a sustainable manner, which would allow all urban dwellers to live in dignity. “We need to see the urban poor as assets and not liabilities. We need to fight poverty and not the poor, to fight slums and not slum dwellers”, she said.
Describing the mandate and activities of UN-HABITAT, Mrs. Tibaijuka briefed the audience on the agency’s unique experiences in cooperation with actors on various levels. She strongly encouraged the authorities of the School to join the growing programmes of UN-HABITAT partner universities.
During the visit, Mrs. Tibaijuka also signed a protocol to the Agreement between the Government of Poland and UN-HABITAT. The Polish Minister of Infrastructure Cezary Grabarczyk signed on behalf of his government. The document further clarifies conditions of the Polish support for the Programme’s Office in Warsaw which is supposed to remain operational at least until the end of 2010.
The ceremony of signature was one of the main points in the Director’s agenda during her stay in Poland. In a meeting with Minister Grabarczyk, and his deputy Undersecretary of state Olgierd Dziekonski, Mrs Tibaijuka praised the existing cooperation with the Polish government, underlining Poland’s expertise in the construction sector. The Minister confirmed government’s engagement in cooperation with UN-HABITAT and its Office in Warsaw.
The Office, officially opened in October 2006, serves the countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe to tackle the problems of human settlements.
The Challenge of Urbanisation and the Role of UN-HABITAT, Lecture by, Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT