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Cairo, 16 Jan 06

Delegates at an Arab cities meeting held in Cairo last month agreed to promote UN-HABITAT’s campaigns for secure tenure and good urban governance and stressed the need for land strategies for the region.

At the conference of 15-18 December, 35 experts from the Arab region passed a resolution, The Cairo Initiative on Islamic Land Tool,endorsing a UN-HABITAT study on Islamic land tools and calling on the agency to facilitate further development of authentic, innovative, pro-poor and inclusive land policy for the region. It further calls upon the international community, the Arab states, regional organizations, the United Nations and all stakeholders to commit their expertise and resources to the further study of Islamic land tools.

The High Level Ministerial Arab Conference on Sustainable Arab Cities, Secure Housing, Land Tenure and Good Urban Governance was sponsored by UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the League of Arab States and the Arab Towns Organisation, and hosted by the Government of Egypt.

It brought together Ministers and high-level officials in the Arab region, representatives of local authorities, non-governmental organizations and experts to address the complex land issues in the region.

In a rapidly urbanising region where 65 percent of the population already lives in towns and cities, UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, told delegates in a message read on her behalf:

“This high level meeting builds on the outcomes of previous meetings, in Cairo two years ago, and in Beirut in July last year. From the 1995 Rabat Declaration on Sustainable Human Settlement Developmentto the 2000 Bahrain document on basic principles and procedures for the implementation of the Habitat agenda in the Arab region, this region has made substantive headway in addressing the daunting challenges of rapid urbanisation.

“We are at the threshold of a successful culmination of the first phase of our jointly initiated regional campaigns. Today, we are not merely considering the fruitful results of the first phase but doubly anticipating the intensification of Arab efforts at forceful, decisive implementation of the agreed principles under the campaigns for Secure Tenure and Urban Good Governance.” She said.

UN-HABITAT also co-sponsored four parallel meetings. They dealt with localizing the Millennium Development Goals, creating Regional Urban Sector Profile studies for the Arab Region, women and land issues, and preparing for the third session of the World Urban Forum in Vancouver in June 2006.

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