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Nairobi, 30 Mar 09

Habitat Professionals Forum Meeting at the GC22

The world’s professionals are challenging governments and community organisations to join with them in addressing the global economic problems.

Meeting on the sidelines of the 22nd Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT, the professionals said that the challenges facing the world were monumental and that only concerted efforts would help surmount them.

The event that was held under the aegis of the Habitat Professionals Forum brought together professionals from diverse fields drawn from various parts of the world.

Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, set the tone of the meeting by stating: “We are well aware that the human settlements professionals are crucial partners that must be engaged if the world’s cities are to achieve sustainability”. 

The world is experiencing a surge of urban growth on a scale never seen before. Better management of this growth is fundamental to international attempts to grapple with CO2 emissions, the consequences of climate change, and threats to food security through loss or farmland. 

Derek Martin, who chaired the meeting, said “Huge urban growth is inevitable, but the way we managed that growth is not. The skills of professionals matter more than ever – planners, architects, surveyors and engineers can make a difference. But they need to work together and as partners with governments, communities and UN Habitat. The price for fragmentation is failure.”

Mr.Martin urged governments at all levels to respect the role of professionals and experts in making and implementing urban policies. “Policy making needs to be informed by evidence, not assumptions,” he said. However, he also stressed the need for a new kind of urban professional.

 “We need professionals who can share knowledge and skills not only with each other but with non-professionals also. We need to become better listeners and better at reaching out to groups who cannot afford or have been ignored by professionals in the past. Active partnership with UN Habitat can be an important catalyst here.”

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