As part of the intensive preparations preceding this year’s World Habitat Day celebrations, the United States Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka convened a dinner of the US Honorary Committee at the Arts Club of Washington.
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Tibaijuka said that the economic crisis in the United States has forced deeper thinking among Americans about the global housing crisis and the need for greater collaboration. Secretary Donovan underscored the need for greater dialogue among member States about sustainable urban growth and welcomed World Habitat Day as an opportunity to foster exchange of ideas and best practice.
The thirty policy makers discussed ways to promote the global celebrations for World Habitat Day, to be held at the National Building Museum, the location of the G-20 Summit, on 5 October 2009. Among the recommendations was the need to create clear messages about housing and sustainable urbanization and to promote these through the networks of the fifteen organizations participating in the global World Habitat Day commemoration. All agreed that the global observance in Washington will provide a platform for dialogue on urban issues at a time when over 1.1 billion people live in informal settlements and slums.
Secretary Donovan congratulated Mrs. Tibaijuka on receiving the Goteborg Award for Sustainable Development, reminding the audience of an earlier recipient, the former US Vice President Al Gore. Early this week, it was announced that Mrs. Tibaijuka had been named one of three winners of the 2009 Göteborg Award, the prestigious “Nobel Prize in Environment”.
The Göteborg Award, celebrating its 10th year, conferred its jubilee prize of one million Swedish Kroner (USD 126,775) to be shared equally among Mrs. Tibaijuka, Mr. Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, and Mr. Sören Hermansen of Samsö, Denmark, who was named by Time Magazine as a 2008 Hero of the Environment.
Secretary Donovan and Mrs. Tibaijuka were joined by Dr. Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation; Derrick Douglas, Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs; Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State; Steve Gunderson, President, Council on Foundations; Tom Jones, Ambassador at Large, Habitat for Humanity International; Kathy Sierra, Vice President, World Bank Group; Chase Ryan, President, National Building Museum; and Ken Wade, President, NeighborWorks among others.