H.E. MR. TOMAZ KANCLER
STATE SECRETARY MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND SPATIAL PLANNING OF THE REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA
SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ON THE OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE OUTCOME OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (HABITAT II)
New York, 7 June 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by expressing great appreciation - on behalf of the government of Slovenia - for the initiative and enormous work done by the UN Center for Human Settlements and the regional centers in promoting and encouraging a world-wide effort to improve the quality of life in human settlements. We believe that these efforts will contribute to forming a more solid basis for sustainable development and mutual cooperation with the common goal of a better quality of life. It is furthermore setting up a suitable framework that is helping to define spatial development policy measures to accomplish these goals, taking into consideration the principles of democracy and human rights. Slovenia welcomes and support these efforts with great enthusiasm and high expectations.
Slovenia already aligned with the statement delivered yesterday by distinguished Minister for Housing of Sweden on behalf of the European Union, and we subscribe to it in full. I would like to take this opportunity to also briefly present some of the most important achievements in the process of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda in Slovenia, as well as the priority goals for further actions toward sustainable development.
In the five years since Habitat II, Slovenia has made significant steps in the design of a new spatial planning system, particularly in searching for administrative solutions for adaptation to the legal system of the country, which includes the adaptation to a market economy, a democratic system, and the establishment of the local government.
There are currently significant efforts towards improving spatial planning legislation with an emphasis on land policy, and towards the preparation of the new Spatial Plan of Slovenia, which is setting up an overall strategy for spatial development. Slovenia incorporated the Habitat Agenda recommendations in the process of preparation of its spatial plan, which is along with the National Environmental Protection Program and Economic Development Strategy one of the main strategic documents oriented toward sustainable development. The main principles of the concept, from the aspect of better and sustainable quality of life, are, among others,
. the rational use of land,
. protection of the natural and cultural heritage,
. social cohesion, and of course,
. economic development.
The characteristics of our country also define specific problems that we encounter in the development process. Slovenia is a Central European country of about 20,000 sq. km with a population of roughly 1.9 mil people living in little less than 6,000 settlements. It is marked by an extreme variety of landscapes and high number of small urban settlements. These characteristics are reflected in the uneven economic structure, and polycentric development of a country of a dispersed settlement structure and distribution of population.
Within the context of the spatial development strategy, we stress the priorities of achieving a balanced
urban structure and urban network; the effective management of urban growth; the balancing of the housing market; improving the land and real estate policy:
1. Countries with small cities have a specific position within the larger spatial context. We have to deal with the development of strategies that define their role within large city networks. As much as it is easier to achieve balanced structures within the small city networks, it is a greater challenge to find their place within the cooperation and competitiveness with larger European cities. Special attention also needs to be focused on managing the outward expansion of towns and cities. It creates new urban structures, for example suburban areas, which are also the consequence of unsettled land and real estate policies.
2. For Slovenia it is also very important to establish balanced land and real-estate markets, especially for ensuring a better housing provision. Processes like privatization and denationalization are slowing down the development of these markets, suported by a good land and real estate policy. Therefore, we have to dedicate ourselves to making a special effort to solve these complex problems. Also, one of our most important needs is to modernize the land administration and information system in order to ensure land availability for development.
Slovenia already set forth its outline for the implementation strategy
of the Habitat Agenda as the
National Programme for the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda in the Slovenian National Report, Habitat II. In 1996-1997, the programme was broken down in detail, and supplemented with tasks and actions performed by individual participants at the national and local levels. We set the following priority objectives:
- to establish and improve the operation of all levels of authority
influencing access to housing, and sustainable development of cities and
- to give priority to promoting the reconstruction of the existing housing stock, the restoration of degraded urban areas, and the utilization of un-exploited land in cities and other urban settlements;
- to encourage companies to invest and perform other activities which contribute to the development of urban and other settlements, as well as to the housing construction and reconstruction;
- to establish the spatial planning system at the regional level;
- to increase public awareness and encourage research activities in the area of sustainable spatial development, as well as the participation research institutions in human settlement development and housing construction programs;
- to develop the participation of public administration and civil society in the planning of policies for human settlements development, and;
- to monitor the progress of the Habitat Agenda implementation by analysing the activities of all the groups -ministries, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and others.
Slovenia is implementing sustainable developmental goals as a priority
in all of its new strategic
documents and has undertaken the implementation of the Habitat Agenda resolutions as a continuous process. They are enforced in the preparation of all laws and national programs in the area of sustainable development.
We will also continue to actively support sustainable and balanced spatial development by presiding over the European Conference of Ministers Responsible for Regional Planning (CEMAT) until 2003, and continue to emphasize the quality of human settlement development. In the spirit of these endeavors, the activities are going to be organized to promote an integrated approach to spatial development planning and implementation of the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent, and in order to prepare proposals for common projects which will promote international and interregional cooperation in sustainable spatial development efforts
I am confident that this continuing spirit of cooperation, along with
clear political commitment and awareness of the common goals of all nations
agreed upon in the Habitat Agenda will allow us to achieve better solutions
to the complex problems we all face, sustainable development, and most
of all, a better quality of life. Slovenia is prepared to continue to work
towards the Habitat Agenda commitments, and in this spirit fully supports
the adoption of the Declaration on Cities and Other Human settlements in
the New Millennium.