MESSAGE TO 22ND SESSION OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL
OF THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN SETTLEMENTS PROGRAMME.
Nairobi, 30 March 2009
It is a pleasure to send greetings to the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT. I thank President Kibaki and the Government and people of Kenya for their commitment to the United Nations as hosts to UN-HABITAT and the UN Environment Programme since the 1970s.
I also congratulate the Council and UN-HABITAT for focusing on housing finance systems at this session. In an urbanizing world, as we face the global economic crisis and the expanding impacts of climate change, we have to work particularly hard to ensure that the legions of urban poor are not left behind. Indeed, there is much to be done if we are to meet UN-HABITAT’s strategic goal of improving access to sustainable financing for affordable housing and infrastructure.
Slums are now home to 1 billion people around the world. Slum prevalence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where 62 per cent of the urban population suffers from inadequate shelter, followed by southern Asia, 43 per cent, and eastern Asia, 37 per cent.
The persistence of urban poverty is largely the result of weak urban economies and finance, and the absence of the instruments and institutions required to support housing and infrastructure finance. The current global financial crisis and credit crunch only exacerbate this situation. There is a risk that our efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and to address the shelter crisis, will be rolled back. I have been urging industrialized countries to ensure that national stimulus packages pay due attention to the needs of developing countries.
I urge you to do your part, and be bold in your deliberations on UN-HABITAT’s work programme and budget, and in your efforts to lay the foundations for a better urban future. The United Nations system will continue to be your partner in this quest. Please accept my best wishes for a successful session.