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New Delhi, 9 Jul 09

A premier business forum bringing together UN-HABITAT and the corporate world closed in New Delhi on Thursday with calls for greater collaboration between the two entities.

The highly successful three-day Habitat Business Forum issued the Delhi Declaration whose trumpet call was closer cooperation between UN-HABITAT and the private sector to meet the challenges and opportunities provided by rapid urbanization.

Organised by UN-HABITAT together with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industries, the Indian Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce, the meeting was dedicated to the theme of innovative cities.

The forum is meant to showcase and debate urban challenges and solutions, by bringing together CEOs, representatives of the private, government and the non-governmental sectors from across the world.

In her keynote speech, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka pointed out that while urbanization had brought with it many opportunities, it had also resulted in many problems. For the first time in history half of humanity living in town and cities and over the next 25 years another 2 billion would be added to cities. She said that the only way these large populations could be provided with housing and other basic services like safe water and sanitation would be through creation of lasting value and sustainable solutions through public-private-community partnerships.

“This is the significance of the first Habitat Business Forum,” said Mrs. Tibaijuka. “By making this forum an important event on the business calendar, we hope to encourage innovations in developing new products, processes and government models that encourage green urban policies and sustainable urban communities.”

On her part, Ms. Kumari Selja, the Indian Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said that all too frequently economic policies have not been able to ensure better living conditions for the urban poor, even when they have ensured growth and job creation. She went on to emphasise that the world will have nearly 5 billion people living in urban areas by 2030 and that consequently, it is of utmost importance that enabling policies should be established for pro-poor investment.

“The private sector could be an important contributor towards sustainable urban development which is committed to inclusiveness,” she said.

To commemorate outstanding initiatives in the field of sustainable urban development, for the first time, the Habitat Business Awards were also presented to five global companies: Cemex from Mexico for affordable housing, WIPRO from India for sustainable water, sanitation, waster management & urban infrastructure solutions, Adopt a Light from Kenya for innovative street lighting, China Merchants Property for clean urban energy solutions, mitigation and adoption to climate change and Safaricom from Kenya for MPesa, an innovative information and communication technology solutions.

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