The Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, has commended the Government of the Republic of Korea for its excellent relations with UN-HABITAT. She made the remarks today while receiving the credentials of the new Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to UN-HABITAT, Mr. Han-Gon Lee, at her office in Nairobi.
Mrs. Tibaijuka and Mr. Han-Gon Lee
Mrs. Tibaijuka recalled that the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak, was very supportive of the UN-HABITAT when he was the Mayor of Seoul. She also noted that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, a Korean national, was lending his personal support to the youth of the informal settlements in Nairobi. Mr. Ban, who was awarded US$100,000 by the Pony Chung Scholarship Foundation, committed these funds towards a training project, in which some 200 youth from several of Nairobi's slum areas are receiving construction-related vocational skills and training.
Mrs. Tibaijuka said that through a variety of channels, including on the job training in the construction of the "Moonlight Training Centre" in honour of Mr. Ban, and through the formation of a youth "Construction Brigade," the youth's skills and capacities were being upgraded to help them compete in the growing construction industry in Kenya.
These groups of newly trained youth would also benefit from direct involvement in UN-HABITAT slum upgrading projects on an ongoing basis. The Executive Director showed the new envoy the model of the Moonlight Centre, which is due for commissioning later this year.
Mrs. Tibaijuka added that the Government of the Republic of Korea and UN-HABITAT have been working on three major projects: the green Hanam City project; the eco-city projects in Seogwipo City and another in Gangwon Province.
A model of the Moonlight Training Centre, Kibera, Nairobi
She also said UN-HABITAT was working with the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea in setting up the International Urban Training Centre (IUTC) located in Hongchon, in the Gangwon Province of the country. The IUTC is a training institute on sustainable urbanization and provides up-to-date training courses and materials for policy makers and practitioners. The institute was officially inaugurated in May 2007 by the Governor of Gangwon Province, Mr. Kim Jin-sun, and Mrs. Tibaijuka.
While congratulating the envoy on his appointment, the Executive Director urged the Republic of Korea to support the assessed voluntary scale of contribution for UN-HABITAT. She invited the Mr. Lee to participate actively at the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF4) to be held in Nanjing, China, from 3-6 November 2008. She also took the opportunity to call on Member States to encourage their Permanent Representatives in Nairobi to participate in such events. Mr. Lee assured the Executive Director that he would do all he can to ensure continued good relations between his country and UN-HABITAT.