International Conference on Financing for Development

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
18-22 March 2002

19 March 2002




Some 1.2 billion people in the world lived without adequate shelter, Anna Kajumulo Tibajuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), told correspondents this afternoon.

Speaking at a press conference, Ms. Tibajuka welcomed the Monterrey consensus' recognition that provision of adequate housing must be addressed. In that context, she noted that paragraphs 16, 18 and 19 of the consensus dealt specifically with settlement issues.

Felipe de Jesus Contu, Mayor of Monterrey, who was also present at the press conference, said that inequality existed in the city of Monterrey especially on the fringes. There must be an economic impetus to deal with the lack of housing -- this was one of the main aspects UN-Habitat was promoting. He hoped that the relevant paragraphs of the Monterrey consensus would meet with agreement to aid those living in poverty to have a decent standard of living.

Responding to a question, Ms. Tibajuka said that a key challenge to be faced was to give everyone a home. Sometimes this was forgotten. She hoped that the Conference would lead to agreement on programme of housing finance. International cooperation was needed to reach that goal.

To another question, she said Mexican cities had grown very rapidly. Latin America had been urbanized up to 80 per cent. People were moving, she noted. Cities were centres of economic growth and cultural liberation, and people were drawn to them. "We cannot lose site of this reality", she said. Under UN-Habitat, the United Nations was trying to confront the resultant problems of development.

Taking up another question, the Mayor said the north-west part of the city was its lowest income area. It had unplanned sections where there were irregular settlements that had had a negative environmental impact. He had wanted Ms. Tibajuka, who had accompanied him on a visit of the city that morning, to see the different aspects of Monterrey.

What was the United Nations doing to help Mexico with its settlement problems? a correspondent asked. The Organization was doing a lot both practically and in terms of policy, Ms. Tibajuka said. Delivering a home for everyone was one of the challenges of the time -- this issue afflicted even the rich countries, which meant that both the North and the South were involved.

The starting point for the Habitat Agenda was political will, she said. Leaders of the world must reject homelessness. The Agenda involved both social and economic aspects. She was here to galvanize resources to solve settlement problems and help encourage political will. The poor must be empowered and their situation eased.

She said UN-Habitat had benefited from support from the European Union, in particular, from the United Kingdom. She also cited Sweden, United States, Belgium and Norway as having provided key support.

Answering another question, she saluted the transparency demonstrated by the Mayor in showing her the problems facing Monterrey. The city had made commendable progress in building infrastructure in the face of rapid urbanization.

A correspondent asked about the financing of UN-Habitat programmes. Ms. Tibajuka said the international community, through this Conference, for example, was taking the problem of poverty on itself. The poor, especially women, must be empowered with land and property rights.

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