H.E. Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Lej
Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations
At the Spcial Session on Habitat II
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.
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
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
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.
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.
10. Denmark pledges to continue its efforts to promote sustainable human
settlements and to work for the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.