From left: Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka and Mrs. Margit Hellwig-Bötte.
The new Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to UN-HABITAT, who is also the country’s Ambassador to Kenya, Mrs. Margit Hellwig-Bötte, presented her credentials to the Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka on 4 September.
Briefing the envoy on the activities of the organization, the Executive Director observed that Germany is currently one of the 58 members of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT. She informed the envoy that the governance structure of UN-HABITAT was currently under discussion and called on Mrs. Hellwig-Bötte to take active part in the discussion.
Mrs. Tibaijuka noted that Germany is a very important country in the European Union and called for more active participation of Permanent Representatives in the affairs of UN-HABITAT. The Executive Director noted with delight that Germany now has one person fully dedicated to the affairs of UN-HABITAT and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
On slum upgrading in Kenya, Mrs. Tibaijuka expressed delight that the organization has made great progress, and pointed out that the first challenge in any slum upgrading programme is to raise awareness about the issues, which the organization has largely achieved.
Mrs. Tibaijuka noted that from 2004 to 2006 Germany’s funding to the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure significantly contributed to the inception phase of "Cities without Slums", a subregional programme for eastern and southern Africa. She stated that the following 8 cities participated in the programme: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Arusha (Tanzania), Blantyre (Malawi), Durban (South Africa), Kampala (Uganda), Kisumu (Kenya), Maputo (Mozambique) and Maseru (Lesotho).
On partnerships with Germany, the Executive Director explained that there are 43 organizations from Germany that are registered partners of UN-HABITAT. She said that 32 of these organizations have working relations with UN-HABITAT and were accredited to Habitat II or the Istanbul+5 Conferences.
Mrs. Tibaijuka stated that among the partnerships that have been developed with organizations in Germany, the one with BASF stands out for its efforts in helping with the rebuilding efforts during the Asian Tsunami disaster. With donations from the staff of BASF, she explained, chemicals and other material developed by BASF were used in much of the clean-up and rebuilding efforts there.
Continuing, Mrs. Tibaijuka invited the envoy and other Permanent Representatives to participate actively in the Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF5) to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 22-26 March 2010. She noted that a situation where Permanent Representatives to UN-HABITAT help in the planning of the World Urban Forums and they themselves are unable to attend needed to be reviewed.
Responding, Mrs. Hellwig-Bötte thanked Mrs. Tibaijuka for the warm reception accorded her. She stated that she needed more time to study what UN-HABITAT does in order to be able to convince her government about UN-HABITAT’s issues. She expressed delight that there were many Germans working in UN-UNHABITAT.
Mrs. Tibaijuka congratulated Mrs. Hellwig-Bötte on her appointment and presented the envoy with some flagship publications of the organization.