Houses of Parliament © www.pol.uiuc.edu
Two senior UN-HABITAT officials, Paul Taylor and Michael Mutter were invited to make presentations on urbanization and poverty to members of the British parliamentary International Development Committee.
At the end of the almost two hour session, the chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on International Development Mr. Malcolm Bruce admitted their previous lack of awareness of the importance of urban issues and the large scale urbanization of poverty around the world. Mr. Bruce said that most of the evidence previously presented to the Committee concerned rural poverty.
“We are concerned with the apparent anti-urban bias and will raise this with others who will be giving evidence before us, including the Minister for International Development,” he said.
On their part, the two UN-HABITAT officials noted the historically important role of the Department for International Development (DFID) in supporting UN-HABITAT. They also expressed the desire for stronger engagement in the future given the seriousness of the issues to be addressed and the potential contribution by the United Kingdom’s strong resource base in universities and civil society.
Key issues which the inquiry sought to address included: how effectively developing country governments and donors, particularly the DFID, are addressing the challenges presented by urban poverty; DFID’s contribution to meeting the target 7 of the Millennium Development Goals which seeks to improve the lives of slum dwellers and the provision of basic services and infrastructure in slums, including energy, housing, transport, sanitation, water, health and education.
The inquiry further addressed support opportunities for employment and livelihoods for the urban poor; the role of property rights in improving the lives of slum dwellers; and the implications of the current global financial downturn for urbanisation in developing countries.