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Closing Address of the Executive Director at The World Urban Forum, Second Session
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Madam Chairperson, Honourable Ms. Maria Antonia Trujillo, Minister of Housing of Spain and Chair of the second session of the World Urban Forum,
Co-Chairperson Hon. Olivio Dutra, Minister of Cities of Brazil and Co-Chair of the Second Session of the World Urban Forum,
Ambassador John Ashe, Chair of CSD 13,
Honourable Ministers and Representatives of Governments,
H.E. Nicephore Soglo, former President of Benin and Mayor of Cotonou,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished participants,
Colleagues of the United Nations,
Ladies and gentlemen

It is an honour and a privilege to present you with my statement concluding the Second World Urban Forum.

On behalf of all the participants from all over the world, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Mayor Joan Clos and the City of Barcelona, the people of Catalonia and the Government of Spain for hosting our event in this wonderful and inspiring city. Like all delegates, I have been constantly reminded of the history and the evolution of this city, and how it now stands as a model for the world.

I would also like to thank the City of Barcelona , the Governments of Sweden, Norway , Austria , Rwanda , the United Kingdom , Thailand , France , Italy and Canada who provided the financial support for this Second Session – without you, this Forum would not have been the success that it was. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to all of the panellists and partners who have committed their time and resources to share their experiences in the networking events in support of the dialogues.

I also wish to acknowledge the reliability and high quality of the advice that I have received from the Advisory Group during the course of this Second Session. In addition to the Chairperson, Hon. Ms. Maria Antonia Trujillo, Minister of Housing of Spain, the other members of the Advisory Group were the Hon. Olivio Dutra, Minister for Cities of Brazil, and Co-Chair of the second session, Mr. Allan Lloyd, Founding President of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Mr. Clarence Anthony, Treasurer of UCLG and Mayor of South Bay Florida, Hon. Denis Shea, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development., the Hon. Joe Fontana, Minister for Labour and Housing of Canada, and host for the Third Session of the World Urban Forum, Mr. A.M. Farvorski, Principal Architect of the Moscow Region Institute, Mr. Alejandro Florian Borbon, Representative from the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), Ms. Irene von Ofen, Chairperson of the Habitat Professionals Forum and President of the International Federation for Planning and Housing (IFHP), Ms. Esther Mwaura-Muiru, National Co-ordinator, Groots International, Kenya Chapter, and member of the Huiariou Commission women caucus, Ms. Bridget Majola, Youthlink Organization. My thanks go equally to each of you for your invaluable contributions.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues from the United Nations system, including my friend and neighbour Dr Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, the Executive Secretary of ESCWA, Ms Tallawy, the Vice President of the World Bank, Praful Patel, the deputy Executive Director of UNESCO, Mr. Pierre Sané, Professor Jeffrey Sachs from the Millennium Project, as well as delelgates from a range of agencies including UNDP, UNICEF, DESA, CDF, UNV and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

I was delighted to see that the World Urban Forum was able to attract 60 exhibitors from all over the world, showcasing a range of initiatives and best practices, including Expo Morinho who built a model of their slum in Brazil . Although we are unable yet to have a World Urban Forum in a favella, we have tried with Expo Morinho to bring a favella to the Forum.

I would particularly like to applaud our Messenger of Truth, the award-winning film director Fernando Trueba, and the Universal Forum of Cultures for hosting the world premieree of Milagro de Candeal (the Miracle of Candeal), as a contribution to the Second World Urban Forum. The 4000 people who saw this remarkable film on Wednesday night, would have seen how Carlinos Brown has used music to change the lives of slum dwellers and children in an otherwise depressed community. Like Fernando Trueba, Carlinos Brown and Bebo Valdes have also volunteered to serve as UN-HABITAT Messengers of Truth. I would also to recognise the contribution of Mateus Alleluia.

I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise the other Messengers of Truth - MV Bill from Brazil, Nukke Posse from Greenland, Kelly Love Jones from the USA, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji from Kenya, La Ettnia from Colombia, Madcon and Equicex from Norway, Godessa from South Africa, Haze and Geronacion from Spain and K’naan from Canada.

All these are young Hip Hop artists and musicians who have accepted to help us to raise public awareness of the Millennium Development Goals and the Habitat Agenda.

I would like to recognize the many media representatives who have actively followed the Forum and who I believe will continue to do their best to convey the issues and mission of the Habitat Agenda around the world.

My appreciation is also extended to the interpreters and all staff of the support services who have helped us so professionally this week.

My special thanks are extended to my Deputy Daniel Biau and the staff at UN-HABITAT, as well as Nairobi-based UN Conference Services and Security who ensured such a professional level of service to our partners on the substantive issues of this Forum and organizing the background documents that provided the basis for dialogue. In this regard I wish to single out the overall Co-ordinator Mr. Lars Reutersward, and Joseph Mungai, Secretary of the Second World Urban Forum, who has coordinated our work.

Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In two short years, the World Urban Forum has established itself as the world's premier urban development platform. The 1,100 people at the inaugural event in Nairobi in 2002 would scarcely have dared believe that more than 4,000 participants would come to Barcelona for a week of networking, discussion and debate. In addition, some dialogues and debates were followed by virtual participants on computers around the world, including 25 thousand delegates who registered but were unable to join us in Barcelona . Once again, the dialogues provided an excellent platform for vibrant policy exchanges between governments, local authorities, slum dwellers and all development partners. We have witnessed intensive debates on city management, finance, housing and infrastructure, sustainability, inclusiveness and urban risk.

In addition, delegates have flocked to many of the networking events, sometimes sitting on the floor or in the corridor to participate in a wide range of debates about finance, the role of local government, governance and culture. It is important that we capture the richness and diversity of these discussions. I hope that you have all received a copy of the first draft of the report of the Second World Urban Forum. We shall finalize the report in consultation with the Chairpersons of the various dialogue sessions and post it in our website for your reference. Networking reports will also be made available on the UN-HABITAT website.

Catalonia and Barcelona have also reminded us of the importance of culture in urban life, as well as demonstrating how, with a combination of leadership and vision, urban space can be rethought and reinvented. Today´s slum can be tomorrow´s cultural neighbourhood. Barcelona has also reaffirmed that cities are not made by planners but by ordinary people, and that a city grows only if its citizens have the space - the urban space, the social space and the political space - to make it grow.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In 2000 the World leaders committed themselves to the Millennium Declaration for a coherent global developmentl consensus. In September 2005, the General Assembly itself will meet to review the Millennium Development Goals. Many of the dialogues and networking events have discussed the progress towards achieving these goals. This Second Session has provided us with a timely and expert platform to discuss progress on achieving Goal 7 of the MDGs, on environmental sustainability. This goal includes target 10 on water and sanitation, and target 11 on improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020. Participants also addressed gender equality, urban culture, poverty, safety and disaster preparedness and reconstruction

As Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, I would like to emphasise the importance that I attach to the deliberations of the World Urban Forum. As you are aware, the World Urban Forum provides advice to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT who, in turn, may advise the Governing Council. Accordingly, I will report on the proceedings and recommendations of this Second World Urban Forum to the forthcoming 20th Session of the Governing Council to be held in Nairobi , Kenya , on the 11th – 15th April 2005. I trust many of you will be there.

It is appropriate at this point to acknowledge that a great deal of preparatory work for this Forum was carried out with the active involvement and support of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in Nairobi . As representatives of Member States and as the inter-sessional executive body for our Governing Council, the CPR provided guidance to the work of UN-HABITAT staff in preparing the range of dialogues this week. We owe them our thanks for the vital contribution they have made to the success of the second World Urban Forum.

Distinguished partners,

Since we last met, there have been important developments in the world of local authorities, which we need to record. I would first like to acknowledge the contribution of UNACLA, under its dynamic chairman, Mayor Joan Clos, and I thank the members for their continuing substantive contribution to UN-HABITAT.

One of the benefits of holding the World Urban Forum in Barcelona is that is, as you already know, it is now the home and the headquarters of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). I would like to record our deep appreciation for the close working relationship that has already been established between UN-HABITAT, the United Nations focal point for local authorities, and UCLG. Today some of you have witnessed the signing ceremony of an MoU between UCLG and UN-HABITAT.

In the context of the Second World Urban Forum, I would like to inform you that at the request and on behalf of the Secretary General, I have received the ¨Letter of Peace” addressed to the United Nations, from the two Institutions in Barcelona – the Ambito de Investigation Y Difusión Maria Corral and the Universitas Albertiana. It will be my pleasure to present this letter to the Secretary-General.

Madam Chair, Distinguished participants,

As organisers of the World Urban Forum, UN-HABITAT will constantly strive to make this biennial event a continuing success. I am aware that there were a number of inadequacies during the course of this week. In striving to improve the World Urban Forum, which is still relatively new, we have distributed an evaluation form. I appeal to you all to give us your suggestions before leaving to enable us to take into account your valuable suggestions in the preparation for the third session.

Delegates may be interested to know that the following categories were represented at the World Urban Forum – of the 4,200 delegates,there were 782 Government representatives, 586 from local authorities, 45 Parliamentarians, 921 from NGOs, 340 from the private sector, 335 academics and researchers, 373 delegates from a range of United Nations agencies, as well as delegates from foundations, other development partners and the media. One third of the participants were women.

Finally, I would like to invite you all to take part in celebrating World Habitat Day on the 4 th October, which this year will promote urban-rural linkages, a theme that has attracted much attention this week. The global observance will be hosted by the Government of Kenya and presided over by His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki.

As we close this final session of the second World Urban Forum, the focus will now shift to Vancouver and Canada , site of the third World Urban Forum in 2006. I would like to thank the Government of Canada in inviting us toi return to Vancouver , the birthplace of UN-HABITAT in 1976. I invite all of you to join us there, and report on the concrete progress in improving the lives of the urban poor that we will have made since Barcelona . We have been challenged to respond to the youth who has not seen peace. In that regard, let me elaborate that the proposed dates for the III World Urban Forum of 19-23 June 2006 are subject to further consultations with UN Committee on Conferences in New York to avoid conflicts or overlap with other key UN events.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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