United Nations

A/50/411


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

7 September 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Item 97 (c) of the provisional agenda*


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC COOPERATION:
UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II)

           Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the
           regional commissions on the preparations for the United
           Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) at the
regional level


SUMMARY


  The General Assembly, in its resolution 49/109 of 19 December 1994 on  the
United Nations Conference on Human  Settlements (Habitat II),  requested the
regional commissions  to include in their  programme of  activities for 1995
an item on the preparations for the  Conference, with particular emphasis on
preparations  in their respective regions,  and to submit a  report on those
preparations to the General  Assembly at its fiftieth session.  The  present
report reviews key activities for 1995 and what remains to be done in 1996.













  *  A/50/150.


95-27221 (E)   201095/...
*9527221*
  I.  BACKGROUND


1.   By its  resolution 47/180  of 22  December 1992,  the General  Assembly

decided  to  convene the  United  Nations  Conference on  Human  Settlements
(Habitat  II) from  3 to  14 June  1996, at  the highest  possible  level of
participation.   The  Assembly also  decided,  in  the same  resolution,  to
establish  a preparatory committee  of the  General Assembly  for the second
United  Nations Conference on  Human Settlements  (Habitat II),  open to all
States  Members  of  the  United  Nations  and  members  of  the specialized
agencies,  with  the  participation  of  observers  in  accordance with  the
established practice of the General Assembly.

2.   At  its first  substantive session  the Preparatory  Committee for  the
Conference noted that the United Nations  regional commissions had a central
role  to  play  at  the  regional  level  in the  preparatory  process,  the
Conference  itself  and beyond.    That  role  should  include, among  other
matters:

     (a)    Coordinating and  facilitating  regional  activities,  including
regional meetings, through a work programme over the next two years;

     (b)   Enabling  Member States with limited  institutional and financial
capacity to  participate effectively in the  preparatory process  and in the
Conference;

     (c)   Liaison and  preparation of  a regional  report on  the state  of
human settlements, highlighting cross-sectoral and cross-country concerns.

3.   The General  Assembly, in its  resolution 49/109 of  19 December  1994,
requested  the  regional  commissions  to  include  in  their  programme  of
activities for 1995  an item  on the preparations  for the Conference,  with
particular  emphasis on  preparations  in their  respective regions,  and to
submit a  report  on those  preparations  to  the  General Assembly  at  its
fiftieth session.

4.  The purpose  of the present report  is to review the  activities of  the
regional commissions  in  response to  resolution  49/109.   The  report  is
structured in accordance with the three  types of regional-level  activities
assigned to  the regional commissions by  the Preparatory  Committee for the
Conference at its first session.


II.  COORDINATION AND FACILITATION OF REGIONAL ACTIVITIES

A.  Economic Commission for Africa

5.    The  Economic  Commission  for   Africa  (ECA)  participated  in   the
subregional  Ministerial  Meeting   for  Eastern  and  Southern  Africa   on
Preparations  for  the  United  Nations  Conference  on  Human   Settlements
(Habitat  II), which was held at Kampala  from 26 to 28 February  1995.  The
meeting  was  jointly organized  by  the  United  Nations  Centre for  Human
Settlements (Habitat)  and the Government of  Uganda, with  support from the
United  Nations   Development   Programme   (UNDP)  and   Shelter   Afrique.
Participants  at  the  meeting  reviewed  the  preparatory  process  at  the
subregional level and adopted  a declaration to help  chart a course to make
the Conference relevant to African countries.

6.  In addition, the Commission  participated in the subregional Ministerial
Meeting  for  Central   Africa  on  Preparations   for  the  United  Nations
Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II),  which was held at Brazzaville
from 10 to 12 April  1995.  The meeting was jointly organized by the  United
Nations  Centre for Human  Settlements (Habitat)  and the  Government of the
Congo,  with support  from UNDP and  the Organization for  the Promotion and
Management of Real Estate in the Congo.   The Ministers resolved to take the
necessary steps  to facilitate the implementation  of the  objectives of the
Conference and adopted a declaration at the meeting.

7.  The Commission will co-sponsor, together with the United Nations  Centre
for  Human  Settlements  (Habitat),  the  Government  of  South  Africa, the

Organization  of  African  Unity,  Shelter Afrique,  UNDP  and  the  African
Development  Bank,   the  Regional   Ministerial  Meeting   for  Africa   on
Preparations for the Second United  Nations Conference on  Human Settlements
(Habitat II), to be held at Johannesburg, from  16 to 18 October 1995.   The
meeting  will   primarily   review   previous   regional   and   subregional
declarations  and  consolidate  Africa's  position  on  key  issues  in  the
preparatory process for the Conference, including strategies and  mechanisms
for appropriate follow-up actions.


B.  Economic Commission for Europe

8.   The  Committee on  Human  Settlements  of the  Economic Commission  for
Europe (ECE)  established a  task force  to assist  it in  carrying out  the
preparatory work for the  Conference.  The first  meeting of the  task force
was  organized  at  Istanbul  in  March  1995  by  the  Housing  Development
Administration  of Turkey,  in cooperation  with  the  Chairman of  the task
force.  The following topics were discussed at  the meeting:  (a) evaluation
of  current trends  and policies;  (b)  participation  and democracy  as the
basis for  action; (c)  economic role of  cities; and (d)  regional plan  of
action.  The  meeting also considered the  question of preparations for  the
Conference in  countries in  transition.   In that  regard, information  was
provided  on  the   application  of  housing  indicators  in  countries   in
transition.

9.   A regional workshop on  housing and urban  indicators for countries  in
transition  was  organized  at Budapest  in  June  1995.   The  meeting  was
sponsored by the Commission and the  United States Agency for  International
Development.

10.    The  fourth  meeting  of   Ministers  from  countries  in  transition
responsible for  human settlements was held  at Budapest on  13 and 14  June
1995.     The  meeting  was  organized  by  the  Government  of  Hungary  in
cooperation with the United  Nations Centre for  Human Settlements (Habitat)
and  the  Commission.    The  meeting  reviewed  the  preparations  for  the
Conference and  formulated common goals and  commitments to  be achieved and
implemented in  connection with two  of the main  themes of the  Conference.
The countries in  transition committed themselves  to the recommendations of
Agenda 21,  the International Conference  on Population  and Development and
the  World Summit for  Social Development  and the results of  the first and
second  sessions  of  the  Preparatory  Committee  for  the  United  Nations
Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), as well as  to the resolutions
adopted  by  the United  Nations  Commission  on  Human  Settlements at  its
fifteenth  session.    The Commission  was  invited to  prepare  a plan  for
regional  follow-up activities  to the  Conference,  to  be included  in the
Global Plan  of Action.  The position of countries in  transition on the key
issues  of the preparatory  activities for  the Conference  was reflected in
the Budapest Declaration adopted at the  meeting of Ministers from countries
in transition responsible for human settlements.

11.  A  workshop for mayors of prominent cities  of ECE member States is  to
be convened, in cooperation  with the Council of Europe, at the beginning of
1996. The workshop will consider innovative  visions, practices and  actions
towards urban  sustainability.  It will  also analyse innovative  approaches
for  exemplary urban interventions  and the mobilization of various partners
for achieving a sustainable city.


C.  Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

12.   The Economic  and Social  Commission for Asia and  the Pacific (ESCAP)
has provided for the funding  of regional preparations in its regular budget
for 1995 and has  sought donor funding  for the second meeting of  the Asia-
Pacific Urban Forum,  which is envisaged  to provide regional  input to  the
United Nations Conference on Human Settlements  (Habitat II).  In accordance
with  the decision of  the Ministerial  Conference on  Urbanization in Asia,

which was held  at Bangkok from  27 October  to 2 November 1993,  the second
meeting  of  the Forum  should  be  convened  in 1995-1996  well  before the
Conference.  The  Forum would serve as a platform for all actors to exchange
ideas  and experience  and to  discuss  policy  approaches and  options that
should  be  pursued  in  solving  specific  urban  issues  requiring  urgent
attention.   As  an interface  with  the  international community,  it could
serve  as a mechanism  for reviewing  ongoing regional assistance programmes
and  their relevance to  countries, and help  to make  those programmes more
transparent and demand-driven.   It is  proposed to convene  the Forum  once
every two years.

13.  The objectives  of the second meeting  of the Asia-Pacific  Urban Forum
would, therefore, be the following:

  (a)  To  review progress in  the implementation  of the  Regional Plan  of
Action  on   Urbanization,  which   was  adopted   by  the   above-mentioned
Ministerial  Conference,  and  to   discuss  strategies  for   strengthening
dialogue and partnerships at the country level;

  (b)   To review the ongoing and planned regional  assistance programmes of
donor  and  international agencies  within  and  outside the  United Nations
system;

  (c)  To finalize  the contribution of  the Asia and Pacific region  to the
Conference.

14.  The Asia-Pacific Urban Forum is organized  by ESCAP, with the financial
assistance of UNDP  and in  partnership with the  United Nations Centre  for
Human Settlements (Habitat),  the Regional Network  of Local Authorities for
the  Management  of  Human  Settlements,  the  Asian  Coalition  for Housing
Rights,  the Regional  Network of  Human Settlements  Research  and Training
Institutes  and  the   Asian  Forum  of  Environmental  Journalists.     The
Government of  Australia will  provide funding for organizing  and convening
the  Forum.   Contributions are  also  expected  from the  Asian Development
Bank.


D.  Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

15.   The Economic Commission  for Latin  America and the  Caribbean (ECLAC)
has  contributed  to the  organization  of  the  third  Regional Meeting  of
Ministers and  High-level Authorities  of the Housing and  Urban Development
Sector in Latin America  and the Caribbean,  which took place at Quito  from
16  to 18  November 1994.   At  that  meeting, the  main issues  and  policy
options regarding human settlements in Latin  America and the Caribbean were
analysed, and future activities  at the country level, as well as the policy
issues likely  to  emerge during  the  preparation  process for  the  United
Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), were discussed. 

16.   The Commission made  presentations to non-governmental  organizations,
especially  to  the  second  Latin  American  and  Caribbean  Conference  of
Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, on  the issues before  Habitat
II.

17.  The regional  preparatory meeting for  Habitat II will be organized  by
ECLAC at  Santiago in  November 1995.   Participation by a  large number  of
Latin  American   and  Caribbean  countries   is  expected,  together   with
delegations    representing    the    private    sector,    non-governmental
organizations,  city  authorities, universities,  community  representatives
and others.   Participants at  the meeting will  analyse the  state of human
settlements  in the  region,  exchange  experiences and  prepare the  policy
framework  for the next development  stage, as well  as prepare the regional
input to the Global Plan of Action for Human Settlements.

18.  The fourth Regional Meeting of Ministers and High-level Authorities  of
the Housing  and Urban Development Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean

will be held  at Santiago  on 16 and  17 November  1995.   The meeting  will
discuss  and endorse  the  conclusions and  recommendations of  the regional
preparatory meeting for the Conference.


E.  Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

19.  As  a follow-up to the recommendations  of the second Arab  Preparatory
Session  for the  United Nations  Conference on  Human Settlements  (Habitat
II), held in Abu  Dhabi from 9  to 12 October 1994, the Economic  and Social
Commission  for Western  Asia  (ESCWA) organized  the  Regional  Preparatory
Expert Group  Meeting for  the Conference,  in cooperation  with the  United
Nations Centre  for Human Settlements  (Habitat), the Technical  Secretariat
of the  Council  of Arab  Ministers of  Housing  and  Reconstruction of  the
League of  Arab States, the Housing  and Urban  Development Corporation, the
Urban Management  Programme, the  Regional Office  for Arab  States and  the
Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe.   The
meeting was held at Amman from 23 to  26 January 1995.  Participants  at the
meeting reviewed the current housing situation  in the Arab region, assessed
policies and programmes  on the sustainable development of human settlements
and made relevant proposals and  practical suggestions.   Recommendations on
the following issues were drafted at  the meeting:  sustainable  development
policies  for  human  settlements and  purpose  and  structure  of  national
reports to be submitted to the  Conference. Recommendations on the  form and
content  of  the draft  Arab  declaration  on  human  settlements were  also
formulated and  general  guidelines provided  to  enable  the Commission  to
recast the draft declaration.

20.   The amended version of  the draft declaration  will be distributed  to
Arab countries through the League of Arab States  and then submitted to  the
third  Arab  Preparatory  Session,  to  be  held  in  October   1995.    The
declaration will be adopted by the Council of Arab Ministers of Housing  and
Reconstruction  at  its  thirteenth  session,  which  is  to  take  place in
November 1995.


           III.  ENABLING MEMBER STATES WITH LIMITED INSTITUTIONAL AND
                 FINANCIAL CAPACITY TO PARTICIPATE EFFECTIVELY IN THE
                 PREPARATORY PROCESS AND IN THE CONFERENCE

A.  Economic Commission for Africa

21.  In December 1994 and January 1995  a number of missions were undertaken
to Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, the  Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea,
GuineaBissau,  Mali, Mauritania,  the  Niger  and Zambia.    The  Commission
assisted  these countries in  the preparation  of their  work programmes for
national preparations, reports and plans of action.


B.  Economic Commission for Europe

22.  The  Commission will support activities  on the application  of housing
and urban  indicators in countries  in transition.   The  experience of  the
Hungarian  Metropolitan  Research  Institute in  this  field  will  be  made
available to the countries of central Europe and other countries.


C.  Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

23.   In support  of the  country-level preparatory  process, the Commission
promotes  the organization  of  local, subnational,  national  and  regional
urban  forums which  would serve  as platforms  for various  urban actors to
exchange ideas  and concerns, to discuss  policy approaches  and options, to
develop  modalities of collaborative actions and enhance the coordination of
activities among urban actors.   At the national level, Nepal, Pakistan  and
Thailand are considering organizing urban forums,  while at the local level,

Bangalore,  Dhaka,  Karachi  and  Songkha are  preparing  to  organize  such
forums.

24.  The Commission prepared a pamphlet on  the concept of urban forums  and
distributed it  widely to national  and local governments,  non-governmental
organizations, research  and training institutes  and individual experts  in
the region.
  25.   The  Commission will  document the  experiences  of urban  forums as
casestudies  for  dissemination.    Furthermore,  a  regional  workshop   on
establishing and operationalizing urban forums is  planned for July 1995  to
exchange  experiences among  coordinators of  established urban  forums  and
those wanting to initiate them in their cities and countries.


D.  Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

26.   The  Commission  has provided  assistance to  a  number of  countries,
including  Argentina, Mexico and  Chile, in  the start-up  of their national
preparations for Habitat II.

27.  The Commission  made its most recent  contact with member  countries on
27 March 1995 in  order to monitor their progress in the preparatory process
for Habitat II and to  be informed of the setting up of national  committees
for the preparatory process and their activities.


             IV.  LIAISON AND PREPARATION OF A REGIONAL REPORT ON THE
                  STATE  OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS, HIGHLIGHTING CROSS-          
      SECTORAL AND CROSS-COUNTRY CONCERNS

A.  Economic Commission for Africa

28.   The Commission  and Shelter Afrique  have agreed that  the continental
shelter report  will be jointly prepared  for consideration  by the Regional
Ministerial Meeting  for  Africa  on  Preparations  for  the  second  United
Nations  Conference  on  Human  Settlements  (Habitat  II)  to  be  held  at
Johannesburg, from 16 to 18 October 1995.

29.   The Commission will begin drafting the regional report on the state of
human settlements as soon as funds become available.


B.  Economic Commission for Europe

30.    The  Commission  will  submit   the  following  publications  to  the
Conference: (a)  guidelines for sustainable  human settlements planning  and
management;  (b) guidelines  for  land administration;  (c)  strategies  for
implementing  renewal   and  modernization  policies;  (d)  a  multisectoral
regional  overview  entitled   "Towards  a  sustainable  human   settlements
development in the ECE  region"; and (e) a report  on the Meeting of Experts
on Human Settlements Problems in Southern  Europe, together with the Housing
Policy Guidelines.


C.  Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

31.   The substantive contribution of  ESCAP to the  Conference, in addition
to the Regional Plan  of Action on Urbanization,  is a publication  entitled
Living in  Asian Cities:  20 Years of Innovation and  Policy Evolution.  The
publication contains  a series of articles prepared by eminent practitioners
and experts in the field of urban studies from the region.

32.  The draft  chapters of the  publication will be submitted to  the Asia-
Pacific  Urban Forum.  The  publication will eventually be  submitted to the
United Nations Conference on  Human Settlements (Habitat II) as a review  of
past experiences  and future  trends in low-income  housing in Asia  and the

Pacific.


D.  Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

33.    The  Commission  has  prepared  a  report   on  the  state  of  human
settlements, which  will be  submitted to  the regional  preparatory meeting
for Habitat  II, to be  organized by ECLAC and held  at Santiago in November
1995.


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