Your Excellency, Ambassador Bo Goransson, President of the Governing Council, Distinguished Members of the Bureau, Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honour and privilege to present to you my concluding statement. I do this with a deep sense of satisfaction and appreciation of the collective efforts of all of you.
The matters brought before the Governing Council at its 19th session and the decisions reached at this session will enable UN-HABITAT to fulfil its mandate as a fully-fledged programme of the United Nations. This Governing Council has reaffirmed that the plight of the world’s urban poor should be among the irrevocable priorities on the world’s development agenda and it is for the member states, supported by UN-HABITAT and its partners, to ensure that the lives of the millions of the urban poor are improved.
During the last five days, all of us were involved in intensive debates on the various agenda items, with very constructive negotiations on resolutions, substantive dialogues between Habitat Agenda partners, as well as with a series of parallel events on important matters related to the future of human settlements. I am sure that you will share my conclusion that this First and Nineteenth session has been extremely successful. With your active participation and insightful contributions, this Council has adopted very significant resolutions and decisions guiding the work of UN-HABITAT and its many partners in reaching the targets of the Millennium Goals and implementation of the Habitat Agenda.
I am particularly gratified that this, the first Governing Council meeting of UN-HABITAT as a full-fledged programme, was so well attended by member states and other partners from local government, civil society organisations and the private sector. With nearly one thousand participants attending the council meeting, we have been able to provide a platform for meaningful discussion on a range of issues in the various sessions, dialogues, parallel events, and many other informal meetings of partners. We have also seen a lot of exhibitions of work on the ground in fighting urban poverty and delivering the Habitat Agenda, ranging from the picturesque presentation “Shack Chic” depicting slum life and efforts to improve it in South Africa, to a low-cost “Habitat Block” costing KSh.7/- which is 20% of the cost of the ordinary brick. This is part of the Nairobi Slum Upgrading Project.
This Governing Council meeting was well prepared by the Committee of Permanent Representatives who, as the subsidiary body of the Governing Council, worked tirelessly in various working groups before the Council meeting. I am thankful to them for their keen interest in UN-HABITAT activities and for their support in the preparations of this meeting. I look forward to their continued support during the next two years in carrying out the decisions of this Governing Council.
This was also the opportunity for the Governing Council to adopt rules of procedures for future Governing Council meetings with regard to the participation of all Habitat Agenda partners. I note with satisfaction the recommendations reached at this meeting for approval by the General Assembly, on the participation of local authorities and other Habitat Agenda partners at future meetings of the Governing Council. If endorsed by the General Assembly, these new rules of procedures will strengthen our future deliberations.
As I had mentioned in my opening remarks, UN-HABITAT’s strategic vision presented in the work-plan is both forward-looking and pragmatic, being consistent with social norms and political principles as well as with UN-HABITAT mandates, capabilities and partners’ objectives. The work programmes for the biennia 2002-2003 and 2004-2005 presented at this Council meeting are designed to refocus UN-HABITAT and the Habitat Agenda partners’ activities on Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to slum-upgrading, and improving the lives of the slum dwellers. Further, the work programme focuses on making human settlements safe, inclusive and productive, and building the capacity of local authorities and civil society partners in implementing the Habitat Agenda. I am encouraged by your overwhelming support to the proposed work programme and the associated budget. I would like to assure you that, with your active support, and the guidance of the CPR, we will work together to carry out the work programme effectively, and provide member states with ongoing support in achieving the Millennium Development targets related to the Habitat Agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am grateful to the Governing Council for the confidence it has placed in the direction that the UN-HABITAT has articulated in its strategic vision. Your guidance on continued expansion and strengthening of the normative activities of the Programme such as the Global Campaigns on Secure Tenure and Urban Governance is well appreciated. We will continue our endeavours to link these normative activities, with the operational activities related to the Millennium Development Goals. This Governing Council has endorsed the key role of UN-HABITAT in implementing and monitoring the goal on improving the lives of slum dwellers and also the goal on sustainable access to safe drinking water. We will strive to further develop and strengthen our collaboration and partnerships with all relevant stakeholders and other United Nations agencies, and international financing institutions and bilateral development agencies, in order to achieve the Millennium Development goal target 11 on Slum Upgrading, and Target 10 on Water and Sanitation.
This Governing Council has recognised that safe water and basic sanitation are central to achieving sustainable urbanization and reducing urban poverty. It has also recognised the need for capacity building, access to information and gender mainstreaming for enhanced effectiveness in water and sanitation programmes. As recommended, UN-HABITAT will continue to maintain the leading role on urban water and sanitation in the Millennium Task Force on water and sanitation. The Water and Sanitation Trust Fund is established by UN-HABITAT as a financing mechanism to support the creation of enabling environment for pro-poor investment in water and sanitation in developing-country cities and I invite the governments and international financial institutions to increase their support to the water and sanitation activities of UN-HABITAT. As recommended, we will strive to make the Global Report on Water and Sanitation in the World’s Cities, a recurrent publication.
The regional and technical co-operation activities of UN-HABITAT are intrinsically linked to the normative activities and are carried out in collaboration with other UN agencies, the World Bank and Habitat Agenda partners. I am grateful to the Governing Council for its appreciation of our operational activities, particularly in post-disaster and post-conflict situations. As recommended, we will continue to strengthen our regional offices and expand the technical co-operation activities.
I am grateful to the Governing Council for endorsing my proposal to establish, in consultation with the CPR, a multi-disciplinary ad-hoc advisory panel on Decentralization. We will take the necessary steps and measures to further intensify dialogue on decentralization and strengthening of local authorities, document best practices, and develop recommendations to be presented at the 20th session of the Governing Council
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman,
As suggested by the Governing Council, we will continue to explore and build partnerships with financial institutions at all levels, to develop various appropriate financial mechanisms to strengthen the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlement Foundation. Without large injections of finance and credit, there is very little hope that the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved. I am happy to have received your approval to continue to work with international and regional financial institutions, the private sector and other relevant partners to field test approaches through pilot projects and to develop longer term programmes to mobilize resources to increase the supply of affordable credit for slum upgrading and other pro-poor human settlements development. I am convinced that with your support I shall be able to give you some tangible measurable outcomes on this decision at your next session.
I want to extend my deep gratitude to the President of the Nineteenth session, His Excellency Ambassador Bo Goransson. I think you will agree with me that under his skilful leadership this council has been able to successfully conclude its work, incorporating many important decisions in an efficient manner.
I also want to express my thanks to the Vice-Presidents: Hon. Minister Arumugan of Sri Lanka, Hon. Minister Henry Midian of Malawi, and Ambassador Adam Kowalewski of Poland. With their skills of diplomacy and negotiation, the Committee of the Whole and the Drafting Committee were able to achieve consensus in a relatively short time. The Council’s work and its successful conclusions relied heavily on the hard work and constructive engagement of the Drafting Committee which has worked long hours in a very positive atmosphere.
I would also like to express my gratitude to Ambassador Benjamin Concha of Chile, who was the Rapporteur of this session and who successfully presented the report of the Council a short while ago. I thank all Members of the Bureau who had an onerous workload and intensive duties, which were performed with dedication and commitment.
I also want to thank our host country – Kenya – for its continuing hospitality which delegates to the Council have learnt to appreciate for many years. We were greatly honoured by the presence of the Vice-President of the Republic of Kenya, Hon. Michael Kijana Wamalwa, and the Hon. Minister Raila Odinga, at the opening of this Nineteenth session of the council. It was in their presence that I had reiterated UN-HABITAT’s commitments to support the Government’s efforts to improve the lives of slum dwellers in Kenya. A number of you also were able to meet H.E. President Mwai Kibaki at State House yesterday and heard from him directly to declare his support to our work. I look forward to working with our host country and the Government of Kenya to meet these commitments. I am also grateful to the Government of Kenya for its resolve to host this meeting despite the scare of “SARS” which poses special challenges in a developing country with a less advanced health infrastructure system. I thank God and all who have been working hard to make sure that the “SARS” problem did not disrupt this meeting. I would also like to acknowledge the encouragement and support I received from Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland and her WHO representative in Kenya for the support provided to deal with the crisis. Dr. Ling Kituyi, the Chief of Medical Services at UNON and her team have all this time been keeping vigilance to keep all of us safe. I thank them most sincerely.
I would once again like to reiterate my gratitude to the Committee of Permanent Representatives in Nairobi. They have also provided consistent and sound guidance to the Secretariat in preparing for the range of issues, which were the subject of debate during the last five days. Moreover, we owe them our thanks for the support they have demonstrated to the strategic vision of UN-HABITAT as a full-fledged Programme of the United Nations. Also I am grateful to the CPR for their patience and wisdom in delaying to inform you not to come when we were grappling with the challenges of holding a meeting with the threat of “SARS”.
In line with a long-standing practice, our partners in the United Nations system of organisations and agencies, especially the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have supported us during this session of the council, for which we are very grateful.
I would like to thank the media representatives who have followed the Governing Council meeting with great interest and who have done their best in conveying the messages of this nineteenth session to the outside world.
My thanks go equally to the staff of UNON, the Conference services, the interpreters and translators and all those who have been kept busy with processing documents and ensuring the logistics of this conference.
Last but not least, my special thanks are extended to my own staff in the UN-HABITAT who ensured a professional level of Secretariat services on the substantive issues of this Governing Council, to the deliberations in the Plenary, in the Committee of the Whole and in the Drafting Committee. I have to single out the Acting Deputy Executive Director, Daniel Biau and the Secretary to the Governing Council, Joseph Mungai.
Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentleman,
The decisions of this council have reaffirmed the vision of UN-HABITAT and its role in meeting Millennium Development Goal targets and the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. I thank you for the support of my proposals to further strengthen UN Habitat and Human Settlement Foundation, so as to equip it better for its significant role in improving the lives of millions of slum dwellers around the world. The end of this meeting marks the beginning of a new phase in our work. I would like to thank you all for this vote of confidence in UN-HABITAT.
I want to assure you that I will continue focusing my attention on the implementation of the resolutions of this Governing Council, guided by your support and direction, and assisted by the Committee of Permanent Representatives and the Bureau of the Governing Council, so that the UN-HABITAT’s strategic vision, and its mission of improving lives of the urban poor and making human settlements sustainable is fully carried out
In a few months, you will all receive more detailed information on the Second World Urban Forum, to be held in Barcelona, Spain. We will elaborate the agenda of the Forum, in consultation with the Committee of Permanent Representatives and all Habitat Agenda partners, taking fully into account the outcomes of this Governing Council meeting. I am grateful for the generous support provided by the City of Barcelona and the Government of Spain to host the second World Urban Forum in September 2004.
I do believe that collectively, we can all work together in meeting the challenge of rapid urbanisation, the growing urbanisation of poverty and that of building together a world where everyone can live in a safe home with the promise of a decent life of dignity, good health, safety, happiness and hope. This Governing Council meeting has provided us with many important decisions and guidance to meet these challenges.
I thank you all once again for your active participation and support. Kwaheri, Goodbye and wishing you a safe Journey back home. Thank You