|United Nations Human Settlements ProgrammeProgramme des Nations Unies pour les établissements humains - Programa de las Naciones Unidas para los Asentamientos Humanos
Statement by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka,
Undersecretary-General of the United Nations &
Executive Director of UN-HABITAT
on the occasion of the
Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation Award Ceremony
in Seoul, Republic of Korea,
on Wednesday 10 March 2010
Your Worship Se-hoon Oh, Mayor of Seoul,
Your Excellency Hyungkook Kim, Co-Chair of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and indeed a great pleasure for me to present to you, Your Worship, Mayor Se-hoon Oh, the Habitat Scroll of Honour Special Citation for the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
This award launched in 1989, is the United Nations most prestigious human settlements award. We at UN-HABITAT confer it to acknowledge great achievements in improving the fabric of urban life for all. And in a world where half of humanity now lives in towns and cities – and with projections showing that figure likely to rise to 70 percent in the next generation – this award takes on added significance.
UN-HABITAT's activities are perhaps unique, in that it is the only United Nations agency which deals with the built environment – the towns, cities and villages where we all live today. It is unique too, in that it deals with the other side of the climate debate – the most important urban dimension.
And although our work may be unique in some ways, in many other ways, it is typical of the work being done by our partners in hundreds of non-governmental organizations, governments and municipal offices, schools, universities and other institutions of learning, and private sector companies which strive for cleaner, greener and more sustainable cities; for human rights cities where all feel they belong equally; for cities where women feel safe; for cities where the women and the children they support can get clean water and sanitation and the right to health services, utilities, an education, clean streets, green parks. I could go on and on here.
And as I look at your wonderful city again, just as President Bill Clinton and I did at the C40 Summit last year, it is easy to see why this great city is so deserving of the Special Citation. It meets the goals I have just cited – and more!
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The continuing worldwide impact of climate change, compounded by the global financial crisis, conflicts in many countries and migration patterns accelerating the rate of urbanization, are taxing us more and more. Indeed, this means that the international community is facing an unprecedented set of daunting challenges on several fronts.
The economic crisis and the growing number of disasters wrought by climate change threaten to undo and possibly reverse many of the gains made on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
In this first decade of our new urban era, there are approximately 1 billion people living in slums and other sub-standard housing around the world. Slum prevalence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa at 62 percent. Then comes south Asia at 43 percent, East Asia 37 percent, and Latin America and the Caribbean, 27 percent.
UN-HABITAT’s research shows that one out of every three people living in cities of the developing world lives in a slum. If no remedial action is taken, their numbers are projected to rise to 1.4 billion by 2020. This implies that developing countries will face even greater urban poverty problems than they do today.
Yet as I stand before you in this wonderful city, it inspires me with a renewed sense of optimism and hope. Seoul is a shining example of a newly sustainable, inclusive, friendly, greener and welcoming city. I congratulate you and the city leaders for this great achievement!
Allow me now to speak briefly about the three important projects for which the Seoul Metropolitan Government is awarded. First, we have the inspiring transformation of Nanjido. Once a former dump-site, today it is an Eco-Park. Secondly, we have the restoration of Cheonggyecheon as a recreation area, and thirdly, and very importantly, the introduction of SHIFT – the long-term rental housing system. These initiatives are based on policies for sustainable development and social cohesion, in pursuance of Habitat Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.
These initiatives of the Seoul Metropolitan Government are outstanding examples of effective planning and coordination of implementation. They have resulted in a positively wholesome impact on the living environment in the City of Seoul. They can, and must be replicated in other cities with similar attributes and situations.
Your Worship, Mayor Se-hoon Oh,
Seoul is indeed a “miracle on the Han River”, an eco-friendly city, clean and attractive global city as you so aptly pointed out in the article you wrote last October on the occasion of World Habitat Day in our flagship magazine, Urban World. In it you described in detail your vision and your master plan, the Seoul Declaration.
Before I have the pleasure to hand over the award, it gives me great honour to make a very special request of you and of the Seoul Metropolitan Government:
In a few days’ time we are holding the fifth session of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro. It is my intention to use the occasion of the world’s premier conference on cities to elevate the Habitat Agenda still further with the launch a new World Urban Campaign.
This campaign is going to be our new clarion call – our new drive to get the importance and the urgency of better, smarter, more sustainable and harmonious cities firmly embedded in global and local policy making, and in everybody’s minds.
The campaign will be spearheaded by a new 100 Cities Initiative whereby a core group of cities champion new ideas and thinking for sustainable urban living for the benefit of other cities in the network and beyond. We have much to learn from your city, especially in Asia, Your Worship, and I heartily invite you to bring the Seoul Declaration to a wider global audience as a leading member of this campaign.
Your Worship, Mr. Mayor, I hand this Special Citation to you now for the Seoul Metropolitan Government with my heartfelt congratulations