Mrs. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka
At the International Conference on Financing for Development
Mr. Chairperson, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Business and Civil Society Partners, and Colleagues from the United Nations.
I feel very honoured to address this International Conference on Financing for Development. Mr. Chairman, strengthening international cooperation in human settlements development is one of the objectives of UN-HABITAT. For this reason, we have keenly followed and participated in the preparatory activities that have led us to this International Conference. In elevating the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements into the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the General Assembly in paragraph 2 of its resolution 56/206 encouraged the Executive Director to strengthen the Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation (HHSF), "... in order to achieve its primary operative objective, in supporting the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, including supporting shelter, related infrastructure development programmes and housing finance institutions and mechanisms, particularly in developing countries". In this respect, the General Assembly urged organisations and bodies within and outside the United Nations system, including the World Bank and regional development banks, to collaborate and participate in the activities of the Human Settlements Programme and the Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, especially concerning the provision of seed capital and the funding of international cooperation projects and programmes in the area of human settlements development.
Recent General Assembly resolutions on human settlements, together with the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium adopted by the General Assembly in May 2001 highlighted two other issues of relevance to this Conference. The first was poverty reduction, while the second was mainstreaming of partners. With regard to poverty reduction, the General Assembly called for a concerted attack on the scourge of urban slums. It stressed the need for determined action to move towards the target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020, earlier set by the Millennium Declaration. The second issue concerned the need to mainstream a wide range of partners in human settlements development, especially local authorities, the private sector, trade unions, women and citizen groups, professionals and researchers, as well as other partners relevant to the realisation of the twin goals of the Habitat Agenda, Adequate Shelter for All and Sustainable Human Settlements Development in an Urbanising World.
Mr. Chairman, against this backdrop, I am delighted to find in the draft text of the Monterrey Consensus much that is supportive of our work in implementing recent decisions of the General Assembly concerning human settlements development, a few of which I have just highlighted. The emphasis placed on poverty reduction and the goals and targets of the Millennium Declaration is particularly welcome. Achieving the Declaration's target with respect to slums dwellers, which now lies at the heart of UN-HABITAT's activities, will require mobilisation of significant amounts of financial resources, both domestic and international. This is precisely what UN-HABITAT and the World Bank have started doing through their joint Cities Alliance programme. This will also require the participation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), regional development banks and major bilateral agencies, as well as contributions from the private sector and from the affected communities themselves. This is in keeping with the importance placed by the Draft Consensus document on public and private initiatives. Also in this connection, the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure launched by UN-HABITAT in 2001 is promising to be an effective entry point for slum upgrading, in particular, and for addressing issues of urban poverty reduction in general.
As we all know, Mr. Chairman, shelter is more than housing. It includes the physical and social infrastructures that make our cities, towns and villages liveable. So I am happy to note the inclusion of infrastructure development in several paragraphs of the Draft Consensus. Particularly welcome for us in UN-HABITAT is the recognition by the Consensus of the need to create opportunities for development-oriented investment, including housing, as well as the need to reinforce national efforts in capacity building, including in the area of mortgage finance. Distinguished Delegates, housing finance is one area that UN-HABITAT will be making a determined effort to improve, especially through the Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation. Steps have already been taken to begin the strengthening of this Foundation as a global source of seed capital for public sector investment in housing and infrastructure development, focusing on the needs of poor people in poor cities. It is envisaged that the Foundation, operating as part of UN-HABITAT, or semi-autonomously, would offer a range of products, including loans, equity, guarantees and grants. The Foundation would also seek to leverage sub-national and city-based financial resources.
I am also gratified, Mr. Chairman, by the emphasis placed on good governance at all levels throughout the Draft Consensus document. In the context of UN-HABITAT'S work, good governance at the local authority level is crucial for sustainable human settlements development. Local government provides the overall framework for shelter development, for investment in industry, for a large proportion of national economic growth and for poverty reduction, especially considering the recent phenomenon of the urbanisation of poverty. In fact, good urban governance will, to a large extent, determine the degree to which cities and towns in the developing world and within economies in transition will be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by globalisation. One such advantage is foreign direct investment, on which this Conference has placed considerable importance. As you all know, UN-HABITAT has launched a Global Campaign on Urban Governance, which clearly stands to benefit from the deliberations and conclusions of this Conference. In this connection, I would like to call your attention to the Local Government Policy position for the Conference prepared by the World Associations of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination (WACLAC), as well as the outcome of the meeting on "Financing the City to promote Human Development" held in Monterrey as a special pre-event to the Conference.
In conclusion Mr. Chairman, I would like to reassure the Distinguished Delegates and all partners gathered here that, after this Conference, UN-HABITAT intends to play its full part in keeping the FFD process in the human settlements agenda, as requested in the Consensus document. Our immediate focus will be on three issues: firstly, the strengthening of the Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation in its role as a significant global source of housing and infrastructure development finance, as well as enhancing investment in housing and strengthening of housing finance institutions; secondly, slum upgrading and urban poverty reduction, focusing on improving the security of residential tenure among the urban poor; and thirdly, promoting good urban governance, including improved mobilisation of municipal financial resources through more effective land and property taxation, service charges and other local taxes and levies. In doing this, we will make full use of the advocacy opportunities offered by the two global campaigns on Secure Tenure and on Urban Governance, and the up-coming first World Urban Forum that we are convening in Nairobi end of April as a Pre-Conference event on the Habitat Agenda for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). We will also pursue vigorously a policy of partnerships among the public, private and non-governmental sectors in addressing all of these concerns.
I wish you success in your deliberations and would like to thank you
again for giving me the opportunity to speak to you.
Statements at the Conference