25th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly



Mr. László Miklos
Minister of Environment of the Slovak Republic

Overview and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda



Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

First of all, I wish to congratulate you on your election as President of the 25th. Special Session of the General Assembly on Habitat Agenda. Slovakia associated itself with the statement presented by the representative of Sweden on behalf of the European Union. Nevertheless, I would like to make a statement also on the national level.

Main features of Slovakia concerning the housing issues are similar to those other Central European countries with economies in transition after 1989, as:
- increasing share of private ownership of dwellings
- increased social segregation of inhabitants,
- conflicts between social and economic situation and market prices,
- problems with social dwellings, in particular for roma population and unemployed,
- increasing rate of aged population and low birth rate.

To solve the situation the Slovak government
- considers the housing for its priority program between 1998-2002. This effort resulted in stopping decrease of housing construction and in doubling of completed dwellings last year comparing to 1995,
- recommendations of Country Profile elaborated with the assistance of Habitat and UN ECE help us to create a sound regulations and subsidy system addressing those problems,
- the legislation and regulatory framework for housing is already comparable with that in EU,
- reform of public administration in Slovakia in this year will shift a big deal of housing and planning responsibilities to self-governments on regional and local level.

All that indicates that we are on the right track.

The main specific features influencing the sustainable development of settlements in Slovakia are framed by location of Slovakia in very centre of Europe, in Carpathian mountains where the main European watershed between Baltic, North Sea and Black Sea runs. This causes:
- big regional development differences, e.g. the Bratislava region achieves about 70% of the average development level of European Union,
- big share of small settlements - 88% of all settlements have less 2000 inhabitants, and the most of them are spread in remote regions with low population density,
- a large extend of nature conservation areas, water and forest protection areas with high biodiversity values (41 % of Slovakia is afforested),
- heavy mountain terrain, passes and narrow valleys issue environment and development problems caused by international transport.

- solving major environmental and development problems, as sewage system, water supply, waste management is very costly and not cost effective when considered in usual economic manner,
- the priority problems don' t appear accordingly to the number of inhabitants as usually assessed, so we certainly cannot consider the per capita costs for main criteria for environment and development investments.

 We encourage governments and international organizations that: the country specific relations between settlement structure, natural and landscape conditions and environmental problems should be taken into account in defining the priorities for investments into sustainable development, in particular considering the priorities for different assistance and funding schemes.

We are proud of some achievements in planning system in Slovakia.

The act on physical planning amended in July 2000 has been ecologised in large extent. According to the act physical planning
- is considered the major complex horizontal integrating tool for sustainable development, environmental care as well as for nature and natural resources protection,
- includes landscape ecological planning and ecological networks as obligatory part of each level of plans,
- is frame for sectoral plans.
All that is in full accordance with Chapter 10 of the Agenda 21 - Integrate Approach
to the Management of Land Resources and of the Habitat Agenda.

Therefore we recommend to the governments and international organizations
- to strengthen position of physical/spatial planning as the major horizontal tool for sustainable development and environmental care,
- to help to increase the acceptance of physicallspatial planning by other sectors as an integrated frame for spatial organization and development.

All that is especially important in economies in transition where the increase of foreign investments requires more space and more land, so the coordination of sectoral policies in space is of crucial importance for sustainable development.

Mr. President,

In implementation of Habitat Agenda as well as National Action Plan cooperation with the neighboring countries, especially with Visegrad Countries, European Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is important in solving tasks of sustainable development of human settlements and adequate shelter for all.

Aware of the fact that five years is a short period implementation of most of the tasks of the Habitat Agenda are just under preparation. This Special Session is an opportunity for international community to assess the work already done and express our political will to continue our activities in improvement of our cities and further promote the aims of Habitat II - adequate shelter for all and sustainable development of human settlements.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, thank you for your attention.