Statement
by

H.E. Mrs. Erna Witoelar
the Minister of Settlements and Regional Infrastructure

Of the Republic of Indonesia at the Special Session of UN General Assembly on
the Implementation of the HABITAT Agenda (Istanbul +5)

New York, 6 June 2001


 



Mr. President,
Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me at the outset extend my sincere congratulations to you on your election as the President of the 25t" Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the review of the implementation of Habitat Agenda (Istanbul +5). It is my delegation's fervent believe that under your presidency this meeting will be brought to a fruitful conclusion.

Mr. President,

We are all here today to renew our commitments to the Habitat Agenda we adopted at the Istanbul conference five years ago. Since then our countries, including Indonesia have been designing and implementing policies in the field of human settlements and urban management in accordance with that Agenda.

Regrettably, over the past years, Indonesia experienced economic and political crisis, which has severely affected the implementation of the Agenda. This has been further aggravated by natural and human-made disasters such as floods, earthquakes, drought, forest fires and local communal conflicts. The latter has resulted in the increased existence of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with shelter problems for over a million people.

Nevertheless, Indonesia's commitment to the Habitat Agenda still remains strong, eventhough we are still encountering significant constraints in our efforts to implement the Agenda. In this context, therefore, the need for international cooperation has become more urgent than ever.

Despite the severe constraints we encountered, the Government of Indonesia places high priority not only on increasing the supply of shelters, but also making them more affordable to lower income people while at the same time improving the quality of these shelters. In this context, the government has undertaken a number of policies, such as the improvement of housing financing mechanisms and institutions; the establishment of shelter rehabilitation programs, the improvement of public infrastructure and the promotion of civil society's participation in shelter provision and infrastructure management.

In addition, the Government has also developed policies for ensuring equal access to land, credit facilities, adequate housing and access to basic services. I should also note here that the "Shelter for All" strategy, which we seriously adhere to, has been officially included in Indonesia's Sixth Five Year Development Plan.

Mr. President,

The issues of poverty eradication has for long been held as one of Indonesia's top priorities. In pursuit of this objective, the government has undertaken various action-oriented measures including, among others, the creation of employment opportunities. This includes efforts by our ministry such as the Urban Poverty Program, the Rural Infrastructure Development Program, and the Community-Based Housing Initiative. These programs allocate government funds directly to local communities to initiate activities, all of which directly or indirectly stimulate the local economy, expand employment opportunities, and help promote sustainable economic activities at the local level.

An important milestone worth mentioning in the area of social development is the enactment of the Presidential Decree No. 9, 2000. This decree was designed to ensure that both women and men having equal access to and control over development resources, equitable participation in decision-making processes, and benefit equally from results of development. To implement this presidential decree, government planners and decision-makers are urged to develop gender responsive planning, policies, programs, and activities to achieve gender equity and equality. In this connection, we believe that greater and equal participation of both men and women in the development activities, community empowerment and the promotion of public and private partnerships would help to ensure the achievement of the objectives of the Shelter for All strategy.

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past four years Indonesia has pressed forward with its reform process, during which time the government has encouraged the acceleration and enhancement of democratization, decentralization of decision-making, as well as the strengthening of local authorities and public participations. These initiatives and their momentum have catalyzed regional economic development and have strengthened the government's commitment to implement good governance.

In this regard, two laws on local autonomy and central-local revenue sharing were enacted in 1999 and are now in force. Those laws also affirm the principle of civil society's broad-based participation in the decision-making and implementation processes. As a consequence, greater transparency and accountability of the Government is greatly required, and effective development should be carried out at all levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. President,

Let me now underline one of the major problems confronted by Indonesia during the last few years, namely the enormous toll exacted on the population due to excessive natural disasters and communal conflicts. As a result, the number of people uprooted and displaced from their homes in Indonesia has grown to over a million. This reflects the serious and severe problems to be overcome by the government, particularly in ensuring access to adequate shelter for all.

To address the enormity of the problem, we have learned through experience the serious need for an integrated and holistic approach. In this connection, the Indonesian government and civil society has taken several steps including, among others, emergency rescue, which includes the provision of temporary shelters, water supply and appropriate sanitation; as well as undertaking reconciliation efforts, reconstruction work, and facilitation of economic recovery. Nevertheless, given the complexity and enormity of the problems being faced, we welcome international support and cooperation in the effort to develop appropriate solutions.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, allow me to re-emphasize once again our strong commitment to enhancing the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. International cooperation and support, in this regard, plays a significant role in contributing towards the implementation of both national and global plans of action and in the attainment of the Agenda goals. My delegation sincerely hopes that this meeting will reinvigorate our commitments so as to ensure a "down to earth" approach in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda .

Finally, allow me to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the UNCHS (Habitat) Secretariat and the international community for their valuable support and assistance to my country in implementing the Habitat Agenda.
Thank you.