Communication for Sustainable Development

UN restates commitment to sustainable urban development

Hong Kong from Western District overlooking Ko...Image via Wikipedia
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has reinforced its commitment to sustainable urban development through expanding equitable access to land, housing, basic services and infrastructure.

At the 23rd Session of the UN body’s Governing Council that held last week in Nairobi, Kenya, the council declared that the resolve would be carried out in relation to the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development, which will hold next year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

While submitting that dialogues around the theme of the Governing Council 23 clarified UN-HABITAT’s thinking on its contribution to Rio +20, council members emphasised that this helps the organisation to encourage better urban planning including greater density and better urban mobility.

On the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target on slums, the resolution passed reportedly provided a clear direction on how to deal with the slum challenge, which the council described as still huge with 828 million people still living in slums.

“It also gives national governments the ability to set national targets with help from UN-HABITAT in identifying statistics and relevant policies,” the body declared, pointing out that, having spent some years successfully setting up innovative pro-poor financial mechanisms, it is now requested to organise partnerships with international financial institutions to up-scale the lessons.

Having held two major conferences on human settlements (the last in 1996), the Habitat III will be held in 2016, the GC resolved, describing the development as an important event in the calendar, and one that demonstrates the commitment to the international efforts on sustainable urban development. The forum tagged the coming Habitat III as an important venue for innovative ideas on the future of cities.

Member states at the event reportedly showed their confidence in the vision set out by new Executive Director, Joan Clos. Indeed, the resolutions passed appear to demonstrate a continued commitment to the struggle for sustainable urban development and an increase in budget from $350 million to nearly $400 million.

“We are now facing a crisis of urbanisation. But it is time we stopped talking about the crisis and started looking for ways to address it,” said Clos. Cities are always thought of as negative entities and we have to change this perception. With the right planning, cities can be a positive force for addressing poverty and climate change.”

With countries around the world tightening their belts, UN-HABITAT will probably be asked to do more with less. Observers believe that what has been laid out this week by the members of the Governing Council will make sure UN-HABITAT is well-placed to face the challenge of urbanisation around the world.

Nine hundred and seventy-three delegates from 90 countries, including 563 government representatives attended the five-day event that outlines the path the organisation will take over the coming years.
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