[Hpn] UN Habitat campaign - 1 billion HOMELESS as Capital goes Global
Sun, 25 Feb 2001 13:36:59 -0800 (PST)
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements
FWD Inter Press Service - Thursday, February 22, 2001
RENEWED CAMPAIGN TO HELP THE WORLD'S ONE BILLION HOMELESS
by Judith Achieng
NAIROBI -- Shelter for developed countries means a house or
apartment. In much of the developing world, it can mean a cottage, or a
hut. And for millions of the world's refugees and internally displaced
people adequate shelter means a tent.
Yet up to one billion people in the world still have none of these,
and live in makeshift structures at best.
"Today, our cities and towns are filled with street children and
people living in 'spontaneous settlements', sprawling slum settlements
without water sewage, garbage collection or electricity," says United
Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) executive director Anne
Tibaijuka told the Habitat preparatory committee, which is
organising the 'Istanbul Plus 5' June conference, that rapid urbanisation
fuelled by globalisation is expected to continue exerting pressure on
cities and their governments to provide workable solutions for problems of
providing adequate shelter.
'Istanbul Plus 5' will take place in New York in June to evaluate
progress made so far by governments to meet the challenge of providing
shelter to their populations.
The meeting, which is being held at the Habitat headquarters this
week, is also expected to appraise the Habitat Agenda, a blueprint, which
governments signed in 1996 to provide "adequate shelter for all".
The global urban population is expected to double in the next
generation from 2.5 to 5 billion as a result of rapid globalisation,
exerting further pressure on cities to provide additional shelter. The
issues of urban settlements have been compounded further by critical
economic, social and environmental factors associated with globalisation.
To raise the profile of the urban problem, Habitat will spearhead
two major global campaigns to improve the implementation of the Habitat
agenda, a blue print signed by 171 governments in 1996 to provide adequate
shelter to the world's homeless people.
The two campaigns on "security of tenure" and "good urban
governance" are expected to fit into the two Habitat themes of "adequate
shelter for all" and "sustainable development".
The good governance theme also would include good urban management
and all-inclusive democratic local governments. Nigeria has been chosen as
the venue for launching the Global campaign for good governance (GUG) in
the African region.
The security of tenure campaign calls on governments to put in
place policies that give people equal access to land and promote security
for residential tenure.
The campaign has been supported by the European Union (EU). "EU is
very much in favour of strengthened policies of decentralisation," said EU
representative Soren Haggroth, from Sweden. "A major challenge is how to
create a true democracy where the citizens have a veritable opportunity to
influence the decision making process regarding their local conditions and
In developing countries migration from the rural to urban centres
to seek employment is escalating poverty in cities. The picture is,
however, different in the EU and North America, where majority of
population is relatively well housed, and citizens enjoy access to housing
markets and the necessary financing, and at the same time with a leading
edge in housing-related technology.
Also among the core issues to be discussed is the role of the
family in the habitat agenda. The Vatican's representative to Habitat,
Giovanni Tonucci, expressed concern that the family's central role as
"basic unit of society" within the Habitat Agenda has not been reflected in
the organisation's key indicators and "no significant mention of the family
is made in the secretariat's documents".
The Habitat Agenda has committed to facilitate the family's
integration and preservation within its "adequate shelter for all" goal.
"Clearly, any review of the implementation of the Habitat agenda
that does not include a concrete analysis of the fulfillment of its
commitments to the family is at odds with the Agenda itself," Tonucci
The Nairobi meeting follows the UN commission of Human Settlements,
which brought together ministers, NGOs and Mayors from some 70 countries to
discuss the future of Habitat.
The meeting also is expected to prepare a draft declaration on
"Cities and other Human settlements in the new Millennium".
In June, says Tibaijuka, the governments of the world will come
together to commit themselves to further improving conditions in our cities
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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