H.E. Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Lej
Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations

At the Spcial Session on Habitat II

New York
June 6, 2001

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen,

1. I would like to express the sincere hope of the Government of Denmark that this special session will be an Istanbul plus five and not an Istanbul minus five. The visionary partnership spirit of the Istanbul Conference with the participation of all Habitat partners should be maintained so that we can reconfirm our commitments from the Habitat Agenda.

Mr. President,

A large number of poor people live under unacceptable conditions in slum dwellings and in homelessness.

City environments are deteriorating rapidly, and pollution is often out of control.

Positive interplay between rural and urban areas is a precondition for sustainable development.

2. Thus the developed countries must show more solidarity with the developing countries. The industrialised countries must develop a much more rational and effective use of resources and join forces with the developing countries to combat poverty and improve human living conditions. Increased ODA is indispensable if we are serious about reaching these ambitious targets.

3. The Danish official development assistance to the poorest developing countries is at one per cent of the Danish GNP. In addition we move towards earmarking an extra half percent of the Danish GNP for special environmental and emergency activities. This enables us to assist low and middle income countries in improving the environment. One target area is industry and urban areas.

4. Partnership between governments and civil society is a keyword in Danish development assistance. The overall objective for Danish development assistance is to promote sustainable development through poverty reduction focusing on 3 elements. 1) broad economic growth; 2) expansion of social sectors, and 3) good governance. Respect for individual rights and incorporation of both men and women in democratic decision-making processes constitute objectives in their own right but are also means for establishing sustainable societies.

Mr. President,

5. The main responsibility for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda rests with the individual countries. It involves all actors and requires the concerted efforts at all levels, especially the local level. As part of a revision of the Danish Planning Act in the spring of 2000, work on Agenda 21 has become compulsory. All municipalities and counties must present an account of their Local Agenda 21 strategies at least once every four years. In our urban policy we seek a bottom-up approach with priority to local participation.
6. The Danish Government has under the theme "Development with care - a common responsibility" launched a proposal for Denmark's Sustainable Development Strategy. The core issue is how to deal with the dilemma of maintaining a high level of welfare and employment. And at the same time to break the link between economic growth and the negative impact on the environment and natural resources.

7. One overall objective of Danish urban policy is to ensure that cities remain centres for growth and development in society as such. A key part herein is to combat urban segregation which constitutes a major barrier to an integrated and sustainable urban development. By this we wish to combat social exclusion at the housing market. In the city as well as in society in general.

8. Keywords in the Danish follow-up on the Habitat Agenda are quality through participation, partnership, transparency, local ownership and social responsibility. Physical and urban planning must be carried out in collaboration with the beneficiaries- the people. In this context, I would like to highlight three important issues for urban development: Integrated development, sustainable development and decentralisation. In short: Good Urban Governance.

Mr. President,

9. The international conferences should complement each other. The Habitat review process should therefore draw upon the work being carried out in other conferences. One example is to use the results and common indicators from the Cairo conference on population and development, when it comes to questions related to population growth. Another is to draw upon the Copenhagen Plan of Action from the Social Summit in relation to urban poverty.

Mr. President,

10. Denmark pledges to continue its efforts to promote sustainable human settlements and to work for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.