Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to share with you, on behalf of the Thai delegation, Thailand's progress in implementing the Habitat Agenda since Habitat II in 1996. Thailand has experienced a rapid urbanization with the current urbanization rate of 38 per cent of total population. Such rapid urban growth adversely affects human settlements by creating many economic, social, and environmental problems. The Thai Government has initiated and implemented a number of policy measures in order to fulfil the goals of achieving adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements of the Habitat Agenda. It has established the National Urban Development Committee, which one of the major assignments is to overall monitor the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. With respect to the goal of adequate shelter for all, Thailand has recently achieved the rate of home-ownership as high as 80 per cent country average and 56 per cent in Bangkok, with the collaboration of both the public and private sectors. The Thai Government will further the implementation of its home-ownership strategy through such key agencies as the National Housing Authority and the Government Housing Bank. Moreover, the Thai Government has established the Community Organizations Development Institute, as a part of governmental mechanism, to alleviate poverty by supporting the communities in terms of technical and funding in order to realize the empowerment of the communities.
Livable community is our priority objective for the development of human settlements. The Thai Government has undertaken necessary measures aimed at strengthening social foundation and promoting equal distribution of economic benefits within the society. His Majesty the King's philosophy of "Sufficient Economy", which suggests a moderated way of living, has been followed and has become the key strategy for sustainable development and well-being of the Thai people. This development approach will promote people to be the centre for development.
With respect to environmental management, we introduce measures that encourage local authorities to make their own decisions on the environmental, land-use, and city planning and implementation. The livable city initiative has been carried out successfully by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration that helped the city of Bangkok to rise up its rank of the most livable cities of Asia from the twentysixth to the thirteenth. We support decentralization. The new constitution of Thailand, which was promulgated in 1997, provides important roles and duties to local authorities, and more public participation in the governmental administration, thus leading to good governance.
Thailand is preparing its Ninth National Economic and Social Development Plan --the next five year development plan, which will cover the period of 2002 to 2006. The Ninth Plan's Restructuring Strategy for Sustainable Rural-Urban Development identifies key issues to be addressed in order to improve standard of living and quality of life of the Thai people in both rural and urban areas. It will give emphasis on empowerment of communities and civil societies in rural and urban development, rural and urban poverty reduction, strengthened ruralurban linkages and rural development, and urban competitiveness and livability, as well as area-based collaborative planning. To ensure sustainable rural-urban development, it is needed to strengthen rural areas as effective agents of poverty reduction and urban areas as key engines of economic competitiveness and growth.
Finally, my delegation would like to urge the UNCHS centre to play more active role in supporting the implementation of the Habitat Agenda in the Asia-Pacific region, which is the vast region of more than 60 per cent of the world population. We also recognize the important role of regional commissions, in particular ESCAP, in assisting its members and associate members, as well as promoting regional cooperation in the areas of urban and rural development and human settlements. Since there is the declining trend of international funding for human settlement development programmes, it is essential for us to investigate innovative ways and means of international cooperation. In this connection, there are a number of institutions in Thailand, in particular the Center for Housing and Human Settlements Studies of the National Housing Authority, the Housing Information and Research Department of the Government Housing Bank, and the Community Organizations Development Institute (Public Organization), which stand ready to cooperate with other Habitat Agenda partners. I am also pleased to inform that Thailand is going to host the Fifth Congress of the Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements or CityNet from 28 October to 3 November this year in Bangkok.
Thank you, Mr. President.