Your Excellency Mr. Agung Laksono, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, Republic of Indonesia
Your Excellency Mr. Suharso Monoarfa, Minister of Housing, Republic of Indonesia
Your Excellency Mr. Ali Nikzad, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Islamic Republic of Iran,
Honourable Ministers, Honorable Bibit Waluyo, Governor of Central Java, Indonesia
Your Worship, Mr. Joko Widodo Mayor of Solo, Central Java, Indonesia
Mr. Sunil K. Singh, Chief Coordinator of APMCHUD Secretariat,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure, once again, to visit this beautiful country. I am deeply honoured to be able to address you in this historic city of Surakarta, also known as Solo, for the opening of the Ministerial segment of this Third Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development.
I wish to thank the Government and the people of the Republic of Indonesia for hosting this conference. At UN-HABITAT we truly appreciate the commitment and dedication and the support that Indonesia has demonstrated in honouring the pledge made in Tehran at the 2nd Ordinary meeting of this conference.
I have noted with great admiration and encouragement, the continuous consultations government representatives of this country have held with my organization, with members of the Bureau, and with the many partners who are here today. I believe it is this sense of collective ownership and responsibility that has contributed to the success of convening this conference at such an auspicious time.
I also wish to thank the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the leadership provided to APMCHUD during the past two years. The very theme of this Solo conference whose preparations were made under your leadership confirms that the standing conference has passed through the transition phases to implementation on the ground. And so I also extend a hand of thank you to the unstinting support of the distinguished members of the Bureau for their guidance and wise counsel.
Let me hasten to acknowledge the Mayor of the city of Surakarta, Your Worship Mr. Joko Widodo. I recall warmly the invitation you extended to all of us in Nairobi last year, during the occasion of the Governing Council of Member States which oversees our work.
The successful convening of this conference is thus further confirmation that you are indeed a leader who delivers results. My organization wishes to thank you for the cooperation that we have had in a number of joint activities undertaken in this city. We sincerely appreciate the hospitality you personally, as well as the citizens of this historic city, have extended to us since our arrival.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
This millennium marks the beginning of new urban era in which half of humanity are living in towns and cities. It is projected that by 2030 that figure will rise to two-thirds. We live at a time of unprecedented, rapid, and irreversible urbanization.
The cities growing fastest are those of the developing world. Sustainable development and management of human settlements is dependent on the principles of empowerment, participation and partnerships involving a wide range of actors working together for the development of human settlements.
In short, as the theme of this third session of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Housing and Urban Development so aptly states, sustainable development is hinged on empowering our communities.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
As I take my leave from the helm of UN-HABITAT after serving two terms in office, I take note with satisfaction and optimism the progress that APMCHUD has achieved since its establishment in 2006 in the great city of New Delhi, India. The creation of this Ministerial Conference was an ambitious project.
Bringing together 69 countries stretching from Australia and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, through Russia and Uzbekistan in Central Asia, to the Gulf States and Palestine in Western Asia, is not an easy feat. The population in this expansive region represents more than half of humanity. If we are going to succeed, we have to succeed in Asia.
It is impressive that in a span of just four years almost half of the governments in this geographical and socio-political landscape have identified with the ideals and vision of APMCHUD. The consistent attendance of 30 countries and more, at all the three conferences and at the regular bureau meetings, is a testimony to the commitment for collaboration and consultations in surmounting the housing and urban challenges within this region.
The size of Asia-Pacific, coupled with its distinct diversity, is a formidable strength unparalleled in any other continent. Its long urban history, its dynamic and vibrant cities, and the cumulative energy and experiences of the region’s population are valuable collective assets that can propel this region to another orbit.
However, we all admit that this asset has not been optimally harnessed.
Despite the prominent evolution of urban regions and urban development corridors in the Asia-Pacific, the urban public policy arena has remained rather weak at the regional level.
APMCHUD has been a timely vehicle for rectifying this situation. It builds bridges with respect to the urban agenda while at the same time fostering cooperation and collaboration. It provides for a united voice on global issues pertaining to housing and urban development. I urge you, despite all the challenges you have been encountering, to remain resolute and steadfast towards achieving the vision you set for yourselves in New Delhi.
Yet the urban public policy arena has remained rather weak at the regional level. This conference has thus been a timely vehicle for rectifying this situation. It fosters cooperation and collaboration. It offers a united voice on global issues pertaining to housing and urban development.
In this regard, I particularly appreciate the intention of the Government of Indonesia to expand its Research Institute for Human Settlements into a regional knowledge centre for community empowerment. UN-Habitat will be pleased to support this initiative because we believe that the participation of local communities is essential to successful slum upgrading programmes and policies. [ladies and gentlemen please join me a round of applause for this initiative]
When we launched APMCHUD in 2006, we referred at that time to the challenges of sustaining economic growth, coping with increasing urbanization, and eradicating poverty. We committed ourselves to promoting sustainable urbanization – in its comprehensive sense - incorporating social, economic and environmental dimensions.
The experience of the last four years has reaffirmed that the APMCHUD route is the most viable way deal with these matters. The devastating global financial crisis, the increasing adverse effects of climate change, rising levels of regional and global insecurity, all tend to underscore the limits of narrow solitary national actions and the strong need for collaboration and cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to see many in this audience who joined us in Rio de Janeiro at the third session in March of the World Urban Forum. The attendance figures showed that it is now the world’s premier conference on cities. It reaffirmed that information, knowledge and experiences, networking, and collective action are critical in the urban arena.
Moving and memorable for me was the way many Ministers joined the lively debates of our civil society private sector partners. They were sharing, exchanging, agreeing, and committing to collective endeavours.
Indeed, I am delighted that the theme of this conference resonates very well with the outcomes of the Rio forum. For a Ministerial conference to devote itself to the subject of community participation in critical areas of sustainable urban development marks an important point.
It tells me is that, the urban agenda is not he purview of governments and ministers only. The people – at every level of society – have to assume their rightful positions and take ownership of this agenda.
It is not surprising that the APMCHUD conference realized early on community engagement is imperative if we are going to have cleaner, greener, happier cities where all have the same rights, and access to basic services and decent shelter.
We all know that community participation in decisions that affect their lives has been in currency for the past almost 50 years. As you are demonstrating here this week, the fact that Ministers are taking it up as a priority for collaboration in this 21st century is both a message and a commitment.
There are many insights within this region which this meeting can share. I am confident that the technical segment of this meeting has benefited from a number of background documents prepared by country representatives and other experts, including UN-HABITAT.
There is much wisdom, through the auspices of the APMCHUD that you can share with other developing countries in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you push for a sustainable urban future in this region, it gives me great pleasure to announce that we have been working hard on our new World Urban Campaign for better, smarter, greener and more equitable, welcoming cities.
It will be led by 100 cities spreading their best ideas to more and more cities around the world. And it gives me great pleasure to invite Solo to join the our 100 cities initiative as part of Indonesia’s legacy in carrying the APMCHUD process forward. I also invite all the cities represented here to join the Campaign. It is open to all actors. The Habitat Agenda is an inclusive agenda.
And please, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as we get down to work at this meeting, lets keep the urban poor, the jobless, the young people in poverty, the woman and the children they support, uppermost in our minds.