|Peter Oberlander (Canada)|
A founding father of UN-HABITAT - for a lifetime of promoting the urban agenda around the world
Awarded posthumously, Peter Oberlander was a keen supporter of UN-HABITAT with a passion for urbanisation and its unstoppable growth. He is one of the founding fathers of the agency and founder of the School of Community and Regional Planning as well as the Centre for Human Settlements at the University of British Columbia. More than 1,200 graduates of the school serve as leaders in communities around the world, carrying with them Peter’s legacy that: “The city is humanity’s greatest achievement.” Peter also helped establish the Community Planning Institute at Kwame Nkrumah University, Ghana.
Through his lobbying, the Canadian government as well as the United Nations executive leadership, the 2006 World Urban Forum was held in Vancouver, to mark the agency’s 30th anniversary.
For providing over 42,000 homes for the poor in 15 Latin American countries
The Chile based non-governmental organization is being awarded for getting thousands of young volunteers, the private sector, universities and governments to raise awareness about slum conditions. This initiative has seen the organization build some 42,000 houses in 15 countries across Latin America. The project is having a major impact on the lives of the poor by giving them decent housing. This has helped reduce health problems, crime and other problems associated with extreme poverty.
For transforming their city into a green home with new housing and infrastructure
Well executed urban planning is what caught the judges’ eyes in this entry. Under the banner Planning an Ecological City and Building a Livable Home, the municipal government embarked on major improvements starting with infrastructure which saw improvements on roads, parks, town squares, water supplies, drainage, sewage treatment as well as garbage disposal facilities. It helped boost the handling capacity of Rizhao Port and Lanshan Port to some 150 million tonnes in 2008; the Heze-Rizhao railway line was double tracked and over 50 new highways were completed. It saw to the restoration and protection of beaches, reefs, forests and parks. Five key rivers were cleaned up. While improving the economy, the project emphasised clean energy whereby it vigorously promoted the use of solar, methane and wind power. Utilization rate of solar power has gone up 99 percent. In recognition of these efforts, Rizhao won the first World Clean Energy Award in 2007, and is still the only city in China to achieve that feat. The economy has improved owing to the project and in 2008 the GDP reached 9.66 billion US dollars. People’s living conditions have improved while the city is still holding dear to the concept of a ‘primitive’ ecological environment featuring a blue sky, a blue sea and golden beaches.
For helping more than 1 million poor people build their own homes, and more
CEMEX, the world’s largest construction supplies company, which grossed over USD 21 billion in 2008, is awarded for their Patrimonio Hoy and Productive Centres for Self-employment (Community Blockers) initiatives. The Patrimonio Hoy scheme, which is marketed as “build your house and get empowered”, gives low-income families living in urban and semi-urban access to loans, services, training and building materials in order to build their own homes. The families receive weekly instalments of MXP 200 (USD 14.80) with MXP 165 (USD 13.00) covering the cost of construction materials while the remaining MXP 35 (USD 1.80) covers services such as access to consultants, fixed material prices for 70 weeks, one year of material storage, home delivery of materials and improvement of public schools’ infrastructure. Under the Community Blockers programme, people enrolled on the Patrimonio Hoy scheme are taught how to make the materials to build their houses. CEMEX provides training, equipment and supplies for the fabrication of the materials (cement, aggregates and steel rods). People in these communities not only learn new skills but are given the opportunity to pay back the loans by selling surplus materials through CEMEX’s network. As a result of these initiatives, the living conditions of more than one million people have improved. When the company was conferred a UN-HABITAT Business Award earlier this year in New Delhi, India, the selection committee said: “In the face of a major housing crisis in Mexico, Patrimonio Hoy presents an innovative scheme that allows low-income families to build their homes through micro-credit saving mechanisms, coupled with access to affordable materials and technical assistance.”
For resurrecting their war scarred city and providing new homes for thousands
The city of Grozny has made it to this prestigious list because of the way the authorities there have spared no effort in transforming their home from war scarred ruins into a place worth living in. In 2006, the Grozny without any sign of war was started. As a result of the restoration, some 3,700 families who had been displaced were resettled in new accommodation. A further 870 shops, eight markets, 230 consumer service centres and 78 pharmacies were renovated. The city’s drainage systems, heating pipes, electricity cables and water systems were repaired, along with some 250 km of roads and 13 bridges. “Today, the city’s people, who lived without any social life for a long time, spend time in the streets and in the city’s parks. This was unimaginable some years back,” a citation from the city reads.
For pioneering a Local Observatory System now used elsewhere in the country and in the Middle East for smart urban planning
The Saudi Al-Medina Al Munawarah Local Urban Observatory is being awarded for pioneering data collection which has had a major impact on the lives of the people living in Saudi Arabia and beyond. Its main impact has been on vulnerable groups, especially women whose associations are involved in all the agency’s processes. It has been at the forefront of monitoring the Millennium Development Goals, poverty alleviation and the upgrading of informal settlements. Urban residents have been the direct beneficiaries of the activities of the Observatory as they become more and more aware of the situation in their city particularly through the information disseminated by media and in brochures, reports as well as the agency’s website. Because of its success, the Observatory has been replicated in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
For helping thousands of poor people move into better homes and boosting health, water and electricity services.
This renewal project has seen some 7,000 families relocated from the banks of a polluted local river to better settlements. Urban greening was incorporated in the project which led to development of parks and recreation areas. The project also saw the development of new housing, new schools and the refurbishment of many facilities. New clinics improved access to healthcare; while 46,000 hygienic refuse bins have been distributed, drastically improving garbage collection. More than 70 percent of the residents now have access to water and sanitation and 88 percent have safe electricity, a major milestone in a place once referred to as “Dark City”.
For its innovative, holistic approach to becoming a 21st century eco-city
After the recession nearly wiped out Malmö's industrial base in the 1980s, the city had a chance to start over. It created eco-friendly neighborhoods of transformed tenements and old shipyards. Much of Western Harbour now runs solely on renewable energy, including wind and solar, while organic waste from the area is turned into biogas. In Augustenborg and Sorgenfri, roof gardens reduce runoff and insulate homes, while a carpool system with special lanes for pedestrians and cyclists help cut vehicle use. Using a holistic approach to its greening, the city is investing in centres of learning on urban sustainability, such as the Institute for Sustainable Urban Development. Only too aware that buildings consume almost half the world’s energy and spew out nearly a third of greenhouse gases, Malmö plans to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25% between 2008 and 2012, well above the Kyoto Protocol's target of 5%. Malmö says that making its infrastructure greener is the quickest and easiest way to avoid a climate catastrophe. Malmö today is a leading signatory to the European Union’s Covenant of Mayors on greenhouse reductions. Here they burn household waste to generate heat and electricity. By going off-grid they don't lose energy in transmission. It aims to become more and more of a greener eco-city.
For providing water, health and sanitation to orphans and vulnerable children
Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Children (UWESO) is chosen for its outstanding work with orphans and vulnerable children. The organisation was established in 1986 to respond to the needs of the children orphaned by the civil strife in the early 1980s and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Over the years, the organization has evolved into a broad based child rights organization. More than 2,000 people have directly benefited from its water, health and sanitation services, while a further 1,000 directly receive financial support through Village Savings and Loans Associations and business skills management training. As a result of the project, the vulnerable children, especially girls, no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water which greatly saves time for studies and rest. Another achievement has been the empowerment of communities, especially women.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government
For turning the city into a green, attractive Metropolis
Jan Peterson (United States of America)
For championing the rights of grassroots women and their movements for better human settlements
Jan is being awarded because of her four decades’ commitment to improving grassroots women’s lives globally. She is a founder of three organizations – the National Congress of Neighbourhood Women, GROOTS International, and the Huairou Commission. Through the latter, Jan has developed a network of networks bringing together women groups in 45 countries. Because of her strong advocacy, Jan has ensured that the global women’s movement incorporates grassroots women’s groups and that it always takes heed of community development priorities for sustainable human settlements. In addition to raising more than USD 4 million for work with grassroots women, Jan has supported pioneering initiatives that include the Grassroots Women’s Academy held each World Urban Forum and the Local 2 Local Dialogue Process, among others.
Neal Peirce (United States of America)
For a lifetime of journalism dedicated to reporting cities for a better urban future
A journalist in Washington, D.C., Neal Peirce is cited for his commitment to urban and community life throwing a magnifying lens on the global urban challenges of the 21st century. In 1976 Peirce began (and today continues) the United States’ first nationally-distributed newspaper column focused on states and cities, syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Forming the Citistates Group, in 1995, came as a natural evolution of the city area reports. With Peirce as its chairman, it is a network of journalists, speakers and civic leaders focused on building competitive, equitable and sustainable 21st century metropolitan regions. The group’s stated forte is communications — using its journalistic, speaking and facilitation skills to stimulate active debate on the real-world choices facing 21st century urban regions, both in the United States and worldwide. He was commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation to monitor its “Global Urban Summit” in Bellagio, Italy, in summer 2007 leading to a Citistates book, Century of the City: No Time To Lose, published by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2008.
He has received the Distinguished Urban Journalism Award from the National Urban Coalition in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the cause of US cities. He also won the Carey McWilliams Award conferred by the American Political Science Association.