Russian Federation

STATEMENT

by

H.E. Mr. Sergey I.Kruglik,
First Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the Russian Federation
for Construction, Housing and Municipal Economy,
Head of the Delegation of the Russian Federation

to the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)

June 7, 2001




Distinguished Mr. President,

The Delegation of the Russian Federation would like to emphasise the importance of this special session of the General Assembly as a symbolic event in international co-operation in the sphere of sustainable development of the urban and rural human settlements. As its main goal we see an objective appraisal of the progress achieved in the implementation of the decisions of the Istanbul conference on human settlements and elaboration of agreed approaches to further international efforts for the achievement of sustainable development of human settlements.

Acknowledging the successes achieved by a number of countries in this field, we cannot ignore the persisting and in some cases aggravating problems. The accelerating process of globalisation contains a considerable potential for speeding up economic and social development, but it is also associated with the danger of marginalisation and further exclusion of those countries which could not integrate themselves into it. The Millennium Declaration states that our central challenge is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the world's people. Our work today should make its weighty contribution to the attainment of this goal.

Mr. President,

In its human settlements policy the Government of the Russian Federation guides itself by the provisions of the Habitat Agenda adopted in Istanbul as a long-term plan. The two basic principles of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development are being put into practice.

In Russia, the citizens' right to housing is guaranteed by the Constitution. According to the fundamental law, the poor and several other categories of citizens are provided with housing either free or at an affordable price. The right of private property in Russia is protected by the law. Over the last few years, a number of laws and decisions of the Government were passed to
ensure social and legal protection of the ownership of housing of citizens, including minor members of the family. The reforms in the housing sector undertaken in the 90s are an integral part of the economic reform in Russia. The legislative framework regulating housing and municipal sectors is being improved. As a result of its reform, by the end of 1999, about 60% of the housing stock in Russian was privatised. Most people of the country became owners of their homes.

The government undertakes measures to ensure the interests of the most vulnerable, socially unprotected and poorest populations. A programme of focused social assistance is being implemented in the form of subsidies for the payment of housing and utilities.

About 73% of the population of Russia live in cities, and the improvement of urban development governance is one of the major priorities. After the Istanbul conference, we started to actively implement the international system of urban and housing indicators for the monitoring of the development of urban development, for which purpose city observatories are being established.

One of the most objectives of progress towards sustainable human settlement development is to ensure the sustainability of the operation of urban infrastructure systems, including transport systems. Apart from that, serious attention is being paid to the improvement of the functioning of local self-government bodies to strengthen social infrastructure of human settlements (education, health, social protection, etc.).

Mr. President,

Russia is going through a difficult period of large-scale market reforms, which creates additional problems in the achievement of the objectives set in Habitat Agenda. In this situation, international co-operation acquires a special significance for us as an important source of support for our efforts. In this context, we would like to emphasise the fruitfulness and usefulness of our co-operation with the UN Centre for Human Settlements, which is the main organisation of the UN system in this field. The projects implemented in Russia with the assistance from Centre for Human Settlements have contributed to enhancing the effectiveness of our efforts in such fields as improvement of urban governance, management of the housing stock, etc.

We believe that the work of the Centre for Human Settlements and other organisation of the UN system in the interests of the countries with economies in transition should be continued and developed. Among the priorities of such work we see further improvement of housing legislation, legislative foundations for ensuring the participation of the people in the organisation of local self-government, reform of the management of the housing stock and municipal economy, organisation of national and local observatories, adaptation of advanced international experience to the conditions of countries undergoing market reforms, development of innovative models of mobilisation of additional resources, including private sector resources, for sustainable human settlements programmes.

In conclusion, let me express confidence that this special session of the General Assembly will enable us to achieve real progress in the achievement of the goals of Habitat Agenda in the new millennium.
Thank you.