The 16th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development which came to a close in New York at the weekend recognized the importance of sustainable urbanization for overall sustainable development.
This year, CSD 16 was dedicated to reviewing issues related to Agriculture, Rural development, Land, Drought, Desertification, and Africa.
Based on its considerable experience in advocating for sustainable urbanization, UN-HABITAT organized and participated including interactive discussions and high-level roundtables on different aspects of sustainable development. UN-HABITAT also ran parallel events on water and sanitation, and land and security of Tenure.
UN-HABITAT’s overall message is that with at least one billion people living without basic services and adequate food supplies, urban and rural poverty must be tackled with the involvement of local communities. At the same time, it is important to ensure good governance at all levels, local, national and international. This is the best way to tackle the emerging food crisis, reduce unemployment and protect fundamental human rights.
UN-HABITAT together with partners of the Global Land Tool Network, held a number of events that emphasized the critical need for pro-poor land management and some form of security of tenure. Secure land and property rights for land users are a key factor for strengthening economic development, social inclusion and good environmental management.
The critical challenges facing the international community in meeting the Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation was discussed at length at the UN-HABITAT event Gender Sensitive National Sanitation Policies – Challenges and opportunities.
There was concern at CSD-16 that Africa is the only continent that may well fail to meet the MDGs. Considerable attention was paid to the problems and possibilities of African development. In particular, UN-HABITAT stressed that as the fastest urbanizing continent in the world, poverty in Africa was becoming increasingly urbanized. In fact, with over 71% of the urban population already living in slums and squatter settlements, sustainable urban development is considered a priority. Development involves not only slum upgrading, but also providing some form of security of tenure for the urban poor and harmonious balanced territorial development. After all, successful rural development requires successful urban development. This is one of the reasons why UN-HABITAT called for increased investment to improve rural urban linkages on the continent.