The eighteenth session of the Assembly of Ministers and Lead Authorities of Housing and Urban Development in Latin America and the Caribbean concluded with a declaration highlighting the decline of available resources for housing and urban development because of the current economic crisis. Despite this, the Ministers reaffirmed the commitment made by their heads of state at the Millennium Summit to eradicating poverty and inequity.
Among some of the recommended actions was the preparation of maps of natural disaster risk and vulnerability as a way to implement collective measures for disaster prevention and mitigation. Concerned about the economic crisis the declaration also emphasized the importance of housing alternatives such as rental accommodation. Finally, the meeting gave unanimous support to prepare the first UN-HABITAT Regional Report on the State of Latin American and Caribbean cities.
The meeting which was held in Montego Bay was opened by the Prime Minister of Jamaica Hon. Bruce Golding who made an impassioned speech stating that it was critical that the international community should not ignore the plight of developing countries arguing that financial investment in the urban poor could only benefit the whole of the international economic system.
The President of MINURVI, Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing welcomed the delegates to the opening ceremony. Also at the opening session was C. Everald Warmington, who is Jamaica’s State Minister for Water and Housing and also the current President of UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council.
In her speech at the opening session the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, began by congratulating the assembled Ministers for establishing MINURVI saying that she had personally led a campaign to emulate its example to help establish the African and Asian Ministerial meetings on Housing and Urban Development. It was her hope to do the same for Eastern and Central Europe and the Arab states.
Mrs. Tibaijuka invited the members of MINURVI, together with their Asian and African counterparts to come together at the fifth World Urban Forum to be held in Rio de Janeiro in March next year. She called on them to make forward looking recommendations on climate change and cities.
During the three day meeting Ministers and technical experts discussed issues to do with housing in risky situations and also tabled their experiences in building social housing in view of the world economic crisis.
The next MINURVI meeting will be hosted by Argentina in 2010 to coincide with the bi-centennial celebrations in the country.