Mr. Gian Nicola Filippi Balestra
Permanent Representative of the Republic of San Marino to the United Nations

New York
June 6, 2001

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to congratulate you and thank you for organizing this Special Session of the General Assembly.
The massive attendance of the highest representatives of Member States confirms and underlines the attention that our Governments pay to the global problem of Human Settlement.

The Government of the Republic of San Marino is particularly aware of the importance of this Special Session about urbanization and housing (Istambul + 5).
We know that the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda depends not only on a global and deep knowledge of the problems, but also on an immediate and efficient response from our Governments.
These two relevant and necessary steps must be interlinked and coordinated.

The new concept of "Habitat" does not lie only in the mere definition of "physical and chemical conditions that characterize the space in which a determined species live", but it acquires much larger connotations like, economic, social and cultural contexts linked to human settlements, to sustainable development and to the environmental preservation of our unique and irreplaceable planet.

Climate changes have turned some lands unproductive and provoked the exodus of rural populations toward the cities. This rapid increase of the urban populations made living conditions in the cities unbearable. Many over-populated cities have no communication networks, no water pipe systems, no schools, no health care centers, no other forms of infrastructure, nor service provisions. The increase of industrial production created - on one side - new job opportunities, but on the other, it does not help the natural environment nor the living conditions of some urban centers. All this is accountable for environmental damages of huge proportions to which we are all called to answer fast and efficiently.

We are framed in a vicious cycle which has to be tackled in each and single element to be overcome in its completeness.

Agriculture should be considered by all Countries part of the plan to preserve the environment, as it represents the only activity that does not damage the land but it preserves it and adds value to it.
San Marino hopes that the international community will be able to create new incentives to ensure the permanence of rural populations on the land and stimulate the process of counter-exodus: from the city to the countryside.
We will have to re-qualify agriculture, especially from the retributive point of view.
In the countries where this is possible, we will need to develop policies sustaining a process of conversion of conventional agriculture into biological and integrated agriculture.
Furthermore, it is of utmost importance to promote international initiatives aimed at promoting the traditions of the rural world.

The environmental question has a particular relevance at a global level. It is very important nowadays in San Marino too.
My Country, like many others, has to coordinate development with environmental protection of its territory. The relation between man and the environment becomes a decisive element for the political choices of the Country.
The quality of life must be guaranteed, protected and, where necessary, rehabilitated. Highly polluting activities must be discouraged through a fiscal policy favoring the conversion of crops.

The history of human settlements in the Republic of San Marino, notwithstanding its 60 Square Kilometers of territory, in substance, is not very different from that of other Countries.
After World War II, the territory underwent a fast and radical transformation. Like others, San Marino had to face the exodus from the countryside but, lacking of big urban centers, it had to cope with an agglomeration process causing the creation of small centers characterized each one by different functions. The recent building development shortened the distance between centers and deprived the old urban structure of balance. It turned the different villages into a big agglomeration losing its original character though it did not become a new urban form.

The Republic of San Marino thanks to its limited population and the recent economic well-being does not have to face at the moment the problem of "Housing".
To prevent this problem and to deal with the present situation, we adopted some political and legal measures.
For instance:
we analyzed the need for new homes, with an aim to redefine a global home policy able to sustain - under the normative and financial points of view - the actual need, in particular of young couples and of particular components of the population;
we established a policy to make home purchasing more accessible; we adopted measures to facilitate and promote the offer of homes for rent; we promptly answered the need of temporary homes for disadvantaged social classes;
we created public green areas, infrastructures, parkings and public roads.

San Marino has to tackle another serious problem: the safeguard of its territory taking into consideration that the excessive increase of buildings, in already densely populated and congested areas, could compromise the environmental balance and entail serious difficulties.
It is therefore imperative to apply in the future a balanced town planning focusing on the sustainable development and on the analysis of the impact on the natural environment.

The Republic of San Marino is convinced that an efficient implementation of the outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements and of the basic principles therein contained, such as: proper shelters for all; better standards of living and development of sustainable settlements placing strong emphasis on gender equality, information sharing and international cooperation, can be achieved only through the real conviction that both, the problem and its solution, it is a global concern. Our action must be compact, foresee a restructuring of our social and economic systems and - most of all - a new policy of international cooperation with the common good of the planet as the main objective instead of the particular interest of few Countries.

Thank you, Mr. President.