Ms. Isabelle Durant, Vice-President of the European Parliament, declared that, as strategic territories for the future of a country or a continent, whatever is its level of development, cities and urban regions are on the front line of global crisis, including the urbanisation challenges related to UN-HABITAT mission. Mrs. Durant also highlighted the need to adopt a multi-levels governance approach and to further work at local and regional levels to address the urban challenges in the world. Moreover, Mrs. Durant affirmed that, if the concentration of poverty is more visible in many cities in the South, but this phenomenon is also affecting cities in the North. Mrs. Durant called upon for a strategic partnership for the urban development, which should focus not only on an agreement and a political willingness, but also establish financial resources and instruments, in order to support the sustainable urban development in the world.
The European Commissioner for Development, Mr. Andris Piebalgs, has pointed out that “ongoing rapid urbanisation is bringing with it increased poverty, exclusion and marginalization” and that “without a significant reduction in urban poverty, our overarching [Millennium Declaration] goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015 will become all the more distant”. He also declared that the advocacy expertise and advisory services of UN-HABITAT will be an invaluable asset to partner countries as they seek to incorporate urban development into their overall development agenda. “The European Union stands ready to work in tandem with UN-HABITAT, as its natural partner in this field, in order to develop joint strategies and identify shared priorities towards helping improve lives in urban areas around the world,” Mr. Piebalgs concluded.
Strengthening UN-HABITAT mission to promote sustainable urban development, Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, highlighted that in the urbanised world, we are facing “turbulent times” with emerging tensions, including tensions between the compact city and the “spread-out” –polycentric city. He called upon that the world needs “new ideas that bring out the best of men and women, the best of communities, and the best of cities, and help to bridge their actions. Ideas that inspire us to join together to build a better future.” He also declared that “a joint strategy is not about what the European Parliament and the Commission can do for UN-HABITAT or what UN-HABITAT can do for the European institutions. A joint strategy is about what we can do together for more than one billion people that are denied their basic rights, living in deprived neighbourhoods.” He called for support for new well-built urban research, urban energy corridor and regional water and sanitation programs for Africa Cities.
Mr. Péter Szaló stated, on behalf of the Hungarian EU Presidency, that this Urban Dialogue mark a new step in the ongoing cooperation between the EU and UN-HABITAT. He reminded that the EU and its Member States have confirmed their commitment to reach the MDGs, and Hungary, which currently holds the EU Presidency, fully shares this determination. Reaffirming the EU support to the MDGs, he also declared that the Presidency is particularly attached to the urban aspect of climate change and to demographic and migration trends. He called upon that the EU must continue assuming its responsibilities by supporting the developing countries.
Among the other high level European and ACP partners, Ms. Mercedes Bresso, President of the Committee of the Regions, highlighted that “the urban issues will be one of the most important challenges of the millennium in Europe and even more elsewhere”. “Nowadays, cities concentrate both the best and the worst of our model of development…” “A sustainable city shall be based on urban solidarity and shall actively fight exclusion and discrimination in reinforcing solidarity between neighbourhoods, socio-professional categories, between persons of different backgrounds,” as well as solidarity between regions of the EU. The urban solidarity shall reflect our ambition to build an inclusive society, characterized by an ever bigger cohesion.
Ms. Eva Joly, MEP and President of the Committee on Development of the European Parliament, declared that the European Parliament is the democratic source of power and authority to tackle urban poverty by requesting the EU to provide the necessary resources, by ensuring the human and civil rights of those living in terrible conditions like the slum dwellers.
Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the ACP Secretary General, has stressed the importance to further pursue the consolidation of this Urban Dialogue, and to commit in developing alongside UN-HABITAT appropriate solutions, based on the appropriation and the participation of concerned populations, and to reinforce the capacities of local and regional authorities to address the urban challenges in developing countries. Dr. Chambas called upon for the consolidation of the strategic partnership between UN-HABITAT, the European Commission and the ACP Group, and urged to build other similar partnerships with the international community, to implement the Human Settlements Programme and the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements.
The meeting adopted the Brussels Urban Declaration which summaries the EU’s and other International Institutions Partners’ commitments and recommendations on how to further develop and increase partnerships at all levels, to ensure that urban issues are taken into account in the local, national, regional and international development agenda, and to establish appropriate instruments devoted to support valuable implementation of urban programmes which improve the quality of the urban life of all citizens in the world.
For further, contact: Mr. Jean Bakole, Director of UN-HABITAT Representation Office to the EU and Belgium, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: + 32 2 503 35 72