AT THE TWENTY?FIFTH 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 (ISTANBUL+S)
New York, 6 June 2001
Mr. President, distinguished delegates,
I would like to express my satisfaction for the opportunity to participate at the United Nations General Assembly as well as my country's support for the decision to devote this Special Session to an overall review and appraisal of the Habitat Program.
The Spanish delegation shares what has been expressed by the Presidency of the European Union, especially its consideration of the special role that cities play in the economic, social, and cultural development, and for sustainable environment.
The Habitat Program and the agreements reached in Istanbul in 1996, have guided the work programs of the Spanish Administration at all levels, state, regional, and local, in collaboration with civil society.
In this regard, I would like to mention briefly some of the actions carried out in my country, which I think can serve as examples of development and application of the Istanbul agreements.
First of all, the Spanish Committee on Habitat, which was created on the occasion of the Istanbul Conference. This Committee stands as a meeting place for the consideration and promotion of the Habitat Program at a national level.
Likewise, Spain has been promoting -- through this Committee, led by the Ministry of Public Works -- a broad participation in the successive international United Nations Awards and in the Best Practices and Local Leadership Program. Thanks to this promotional work, the Spanish Practices presented at such Awards have reached a level of quality that has gained Spain international recognition. Besides having an important number among the 100 best practices selected, the "Program for Improvement of Urban Environment" of Malaga in 1998 received one of the ten awards at international level, and in the year 2000, the "Green Ways" (ecological reuse of unused railways, presented by the Spanish Railway Foundation) received another award among the ten international awards.
Spain has thus greatly contributed to spreading the culture of sustainability, reinforced by the publication of the successive Catalogues that gather the submissions nominated and by a traveling Exhibit that has been showed in several occasions in Spain and in other countries.
I should add that that the Spanish Internet site, established in 1997, "Biblioteca Ciudades para un futuro mas sostenible" ("City Library for a more sustainable future"), contains, besides other information, a data base on Good Practices that has been translated into Spanish. Since its creation, this Page has proved to be powerful reference tool, transfer of knowledge, and meeting place for the Spanish-speaking community.
With regards to housing, the efforts of all local administrations in Spain to make the objective of "suitable housing for all" a reality have been outstanding in recent years. Starting with the State, in particular, successive housing plans -- the most recent one for the period 1998-2001. This plan intends to facilitate average or low income families access to ownership of housing and to promote rental housing offers.
Lastly, in the field of international cooperation for development, I would like to add that the approval in 1998 of the Law for International Cooperation for Development is of great relevance. This Law is a milestone when pointing out the following governing principles of the Spanish policy for cooperation:
. Recognition of the human being as protagonist and final recipient of the international cooperation for development policy.
. Respect for human rights as well as the commitment to democracy and public freedoms.
. The production of a global, participatory, sustainable human development, and a durable and sustainable economic growth.
. Respect for adopted internationally agreed commitments.
As a singular example of cooperation, directly related to the Habitat Program, we can mention the so called "Latin American and Caribbean Forum on Better Practices.' This Forum originated directly from Habitat II and its objective is to increase and enlarge in all countries of the region the participation of civil society in developmental policies of human settlements.
This program has been introduced in the subcontinent and is administered by the Regional Latin American and the Caribbean Office of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements.
We have gone a long way since 1996 in Istanbul, but we still have many problems to solve.
It is necessary to identify our efforts and reinforce our cooperation to improve living conditions in our cities and in human settlements in general. For this, States are the mediators to establish the international and local framework so that the global and local coordination becomes a reality.
We are extremely satisfied that on the occasion of the first intervention before the General Assembly of a representative of local Authorities it is a Spanish Mayor, Mr. Joan Clos, Mayor of Barcelona, who will be addressing this august body. This confirms the spirit of collaboration that we fully support.
We also take pride that the Barcelona experience: 'An Economic and Sustainable Change and Decentralization" has been chosen as one of the theme examples to present to the Committee.
To conclude, please allow me, Mr. President, to reiterate the firm commitment of Spain to work in this direction, accepting the agreements to be adopted in this Assembly for the achievement of the objectives of "Suitable housing for all and sustainable human settlement in a world of rapid urban growth."
Thank you Mr. President.