United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Address to the 2nd Committee of the 65th session of the
General Assembly of the United Nations
Agenda Item 21
Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations
Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and
strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements
Dr. Joan Clos
New York, 2nd November 2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel honoured to appear before you today, in my capacity as the new Executive Director of the United
Nations Human Settlements Programme.
You have before you two reports. The first document, A/65/316 is the report entitled “Implementation of
the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and the strengthening
of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme” prepared by the Secretary General pursuant to
General Assembly Resolution 64/207.
The second document, E/2010/72, is the report of the Secretary General on the “Coordinated
Implementation of the Habitat Agenda”, which was presented to the substantive session of the Economic
and Social Council of 2010 and transmitted to this Committee pursuant to decision E/2010/236.
For now, I intend to highlight only the key achievements made since the adoption of General Assembly
Resolution 64/207, which are described in more detail in document A/65/316.
During the reporting period, the focus of UN-Habitat’s normative work sought to improve monitoring of
sustainable urbanization conditions and trends. It also sought to deepen our understanding of the
current challenges of urbanization, focusing on social, political and security consequences of fast
urbanization, and also the increasing inequalities emerging from these processes.
UN-Habitat published two major reports. The first was the Global Report on Human Settlements 2009.
The second was the State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011 report.
From our analysis, it is clear that future urban policies must address a number of major challenges that
are shaping the twenty-first century urbanization process. These include demographic, economic,
environmental, spatial and institutional challenges, all of which are fully discussed in document
In light of these challenges, it is important for Governments to assess progress made towards attainment
of the Habitat Agenda goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements
development. Thus, the convening of a third United Nations conference on housing and sustainable
urban development (Habitat III) would be really very timely.
A very important finding of our analysis that I would like to highlight is about the attainment of the
Millennium Development target on slums. Between 2000 and 2010, the lives of 230 million slum
dwellers were improved. However, this achievement was not unifo rmly distributed across regions.
As it is well known, the more advanced developing countries made better progress than the
poorer developing countries.
In fact, the Millennium Development Goals target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum
dwellers by 2020 has already been exceeded by an extra 100 million. However, 830 million people still
live in urban slums. Current predictions suggest that between now and 2020, the world’s total number of
slum dwellers will increase by 60 million. It is therefore clear that Governments need to intensify efforts
to improve the lives of slum dwellers and to prevent the emergence and growth of slums. A new
framework is needed for these efforts, since the Millennium Development Goals target on slums has
already been attained, but the inconvenient truth is that the slum phenomenon is still growing too fast.
Madam Chairperson, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates
A number of significant events took place during the last year, all of which helped in advancing our
advocacy efforts for the Habitat Agenda.
The first was the fifth session of the World Urban Forum. This was held in Rio de Janeiro in
March this year. Over 10,600 people from 150 countries representing all Habitat Agenda partners
attended the session. The theme of the fifth session was “The Right to the City – Bridging the
The second significant advocacy event was the launching of the World Urban Campaign . The
Campaign seeks to help Governments and all Habitat Agenda Partners to move towards more
sustainable, smarter, greener and more equitable cities. It calls especially for the private sector to
be more involved as a stakeholder.
The third event was the Shanghai World Exposit ion 2010. The theme of the Expo wa s “Better
City, Better Life”. It opened in May and closed just two days ago on 31 October 2010. The theme
of the UN pavilion , which was coordinated by UN-Habitat, was “One Earth, One UN”. Three
million people visited the UN pavilion.
As part of its efforts to promote sustainable urbanization and strengthen the role of local
authorities, UN-Habitat focused on strengthening inclusive urban plannin g, management and
governance. Substantive areas of focus included cities and climate change, as well as post -
disaster and post-conflict reconstruction and development .
UN-Habitat launched the Cities and Climate Change Initiative in 2009. This significant initiative works
with a wide range of external and local partners to produce measurable results. Four initial pilot cities are
involved under the Initiative. These are Kampala; Maputo; Sorsogon, in the Philippines; and
Esmeraldas, in Ecuador.
UN-Habitat continued its work within the Inter -Agency Standing Committee (IASC) for
humanitarian affairs, as focal point for housing, land and property. The focus of UN -Habitat was to
integrate a human settlements perspective into the earl iest stages of emergency relief, in order to
facilitate transition to early recovery and reconstruction. Every crisis should be taken also as an
opportunity to do things better immediately after a crisis, right from the beginning, since it is at
that moment that the seeds of recovery are planted.
Madam Chairperson, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates
UN-Habitat also carried out a number of activities to assist Governments to review their land and
housing policies and to implement land and affordable housing programmes.
Through the Global Land Tool Network , UN-Habitat facilitated a network that includes most of the
important actors in the land sector. UN-Habitat has successfully influenced the overall housing
reconstruction strategy and the policy approach to land -related challenges in Haiti.
Another significant development was the launching of the second phase of the Participatory Slum
Upgrading and Prevention Programme in three African countries. In Bangladesh, UN -Habitat
supported the implementation of the Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction. It is the largest
urban poverty reduction initiative in the country, and one of the largest in the world.
UN-Habitat carried out both normative and operational activities a s part of its on-going
contribution towards the realization of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals on
sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
We published the third Water and Sanitation in the World’s Cities report, titled Solid Waste in
the World’s Cities. I am pleased to inform you that this report has recently won the International
Solid Waste Association Publication Award 2010. UN-Habitat supported water, sanitation and
solid waste projects in 20 developing countries in three continents.
UN-Habitat accelerated its work on improving human settlements finance systems. In its catalytic role,
UN-Habitat facilitated cooperation between domestic banks, local authorities and urban poor
organizations to mobilize and package domestic capital, public investment and community savings for
slum upgrading. This was pursued through two pilot programmes, the Experimental Reimbursable
Seeding Operations (ERSO), and the Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF).
During the reporting period, ERSO catalytic loan transactions of close to 2.8 million US Dollars
were completed in five countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East , which are mobilizing around
500 million US Dollars of investment.
“Excellence in Management” is one of the focus areas of UN-Habitat’s Medium-term Strategic and
Institutional Plan for the period 2008 to 2013.
During the reporting period, a joint review of UN-Habitat’s governance structure by its Committee
of Permanent Representatives (CPR) and its Secretariat was initiated and is still on-going.
An important aim during the reporting period was to achieve resource mobilization targets set for
non-earmarked and earmarked funding. For non-earmarked funds, 20 million US Dollars was
received in 2009, representing 93 per cent of the set tar get. For earmarked resources, 126.2
million US Dollars was received in 2009, representing 126 per cent of the target.
New multi-year agreements were negotiated and signed with the Governments of Norway, Spain,
Sweden and the UK, achieving longer term comm itments from key strategic development
Madam Chairperson, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates
I took up the position of Executive Director of UN-Habitat two weeks ago. I am still in the process of
getting to know the organization. But I can tell you that it is my intention to build on the gains achieved
by the former Executive Director, Ms. Tibaijuka, in order to transform the UN-Habitat Secretariat into a
centre of excellence. I can only do this under your support and guidance, as well as that of the
Governing Council of UN-Habitat.
UN-Habitat will continue to prioritize core activities of its mandates - those activities that Governments
consider to be important. These include: first, promoting sustainable urbanization; second, slum
prevention and upgrading through effective land and housing policies; third, improving access to drinking
water and sanitation; fourth, promoting effective and sustainable financing of cities; fifth, mainstreaming
gender and promoting partnerships; and sixth, promoting global awareness of urban conditions and
trends through evidence based global monitoring.
If UN-Habitat is to continue to be internationally relevant, it also has to respond to emerging urban
challenges. In responding to the major global trends and challenges that I highlighted at the beginning of
my statement, my preliminary assessment suggests that UN-Habitat will need to prioritize the following
areas: first, promoting a new role for urban planning in developing sustainable cities and towns - a
planning for the twenty-first century, which is not the planning of the 1980s; second, promoting the role
of cities in climate change, focusing on urban-based mitigation and adaptation efforts, including in the
areas of energy consumption as well as sustainable urban mobility and transport, bearing in mind the
huge contribution of cities in developed countries to greenhouse gas emissions; third, responding to
natural and human-made disasters, with the aim of facilitating transition to early recovery and
reconstruction; and fourth, promoting and enhancing the role of local authorities, focusing on municipal
Finally, a new economic appraisal should be developed in order to better understand the urbanization
process. The evolution in time of urban capital assets and their contribution to the economy of a nation,
as the added value that urbanization generates, are very powerful forces in both developed and
developing countries. It is not by chance that the recent financial crisis was based on the burst of the
housing prices bubble.
I thank you for your kind attention.