SPECIAL SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR AN OVERALL REVIEW AND APPRAISAL OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE HABITAT AGENDA (ISTANBUL + 5), 6-8 JUNE 2001, NEW YORK DRAFT REPORT OF THE THEMATIC COMMITTEE
INTRODUCTION The purpose of this Committee was to present and discuss what was done in practice on the ground to implement the Habitat Agenda. Five sessions were held, during which 16 cases were presented. The case studies had been carefully selected to cover Shelter and Services, Environmental Management, Urban Governance and Eradication of Poverty. A number of crosscutting themes were also addressed, such as participation, partnership and cooperation, gender equity, social inclusion, scaling-up of local practice and exchange of knowledge. The introductory session of the Committee was held on Wednesday 6 June 2001 between 11 and 12 hours. The Bureau of the Committee was elected as follows: Chairman: Mr. Slaheddine Belaid, Minister of Equipment and Housing, Tunisia, Mrs. Erna Witoelar, Minister for Settlements and Regional Infrastructure, Indonesia, Mr. Jose Maria Matamoros, President of the National Housing Council, Venezuela, Mr. Luis Garcia Cerezo, Permanent Representative of Spain to UNCHS (Habitat), Mrs Elena Szolgayova, Ministry of Construction and Regional Development, Slovak Republic.
The Chairman explained the procedures to be followed by the Committee in its deliberations. He indicated that each case study had a maximum of one hour. Presenters would be given fifteen minutes for presentation, while the remaining fourty-five minutes would be devoted to discussion. Discussion would be introduced and concluded by a facilitator selected by UNCHS (Habitat).
SESSION 1: SHELTER AND SERVICES The first sessions of the Thematic Committee were held on Wednesday 6 June from 12.00 hours to 13 hours and from 15.00 hours to 19.00 hours. The sessions focused on the subject of shelter and services. Five cases were presented, all from developing countries. The South African Housing Policy: Operationalizing the Right to Adequate Housing The case was presented in video format by Ms. Sankie Mthembe-Mahanyele, Minister of Housing, South Africa and the facilitator was Mr. Delabarre, former Minister and Mayor of Dunkerque, France. The presentation dealt with the strategy adopted by the South African Government to provide housing for the poor. The discussion highlighted a number of issues concerning this ambitious programme: access to decent housing; public support housing for the poor; involvement of people in the housing process; effects on employment and partnership. The discussion revealed that South Africa had learnt from the experience of India, that women were very much involved in savings for housing, that many small-scale contractors were involved in implementing the housing projects and that private sector formal lending institutions still needed to adjust their practices to suit the needs and circumstances of the poor. In implementing the projects, communities were trained by government experts and a budget was set aside specifically for capacity-building. Expert pensioners, newly graduated younger experts and universities were used in this process. Financial sustainability beyond subsidies was achieved through household savings, sweat equity, self construction of housing. Many women were involved in savings groups which are based on community trust. It was emphasized that precaution should be taken to ensure that real estate investors are not discouraged through the operation of rent tribunals. The issue of quality control versus quantity was raised and it was stated that a National Home Builders registration Council had been put in place to ensure that contractors adhered to appropriate standards. It was also recognized that a gradual approach to standards was necessary. It was emphasized that South Africa needed to consider the slum upgrading option, in addition to the current emphasis on new housing. It was stated that the strategy in place contained an urban renewal dimension that placed emphasis on improving basic services and social infrastructure.
The policy of not evicting the poor without providing alternative shelter was recognized as an important feature of the case presented, as was the legal framework within which this particular policy operated. Mechanisms for the acquisition of land for housing were being worked out, traditional housing technology improved and experimentation with higher building densities carried out in order to avoid urban sprawl. The role of government in intervening to correct situations of extreme inequality (historical and racial in the case of South Africa) and to protect the poor was further emphasized. Shelter and City Development Strategies in Egypt The case was presented by Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Soliman, Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities and the facilitator was Ms. Josefina Vasquez Mota, Secretary of Social Development, Mexico .A video was shown, followed by a short presentation. The following issues emerged from the discussion: democratic process with regard to housing and planning and the role of civil society; consensus building especially concerning relocation; the principles of self reliance and social solidarity; evaluation of project impact; and possibilities for scaling up. It was pointed out that the basic problems of informal settlements included low levels of governance, lack of security and insufficient access to financial resources for shelter improvement. So policies dealing with security of tenure and improved access to credit were necessary. Problems of relocating households and the need to minimise relocation distance were also highlighted. The projects had succeeded in building more cohesive communities. Holistic Upgrading Programme in Medellin, Colombia The case was presented by Mr. Alvaro Jose Cobo Soto, Director General of Housing, and the facilitator was Ms. Lydia Mabel Martinez de Jimenez, Director of Housing Policies, Argentina. A video was shown, followed by a short presentation. The programme presented addressed the problem of informal settlements and of insecurity at several levels, i.e. settlement on precarious land; insecurity of tenure for residents, and threat to personal safety due to high levels of violence and poverty. Discussion from the floor raised the following issues: addressing the underlying causes of social disintegration; improved governance through security of tenure and income generation; how to deal with land speculation; scaling up; and the
need for specific roles for different actors: community, civil society, local authority, national government, private sector and the international community. The involvement of central government in ensuring sustainability was emphasized. It was further highlighted that secure tenure could be used as a powerful tool for creating a sense of community and guaranteeing programme acceptance. Improvement and Restructuring of Spontaneous Settlements in Dakar, Senegal The case was presented by Mr. Seydou Sy Sall, Minister of Town and Regional Planning, and facilitated by Mr. M. Delabarre, former Minister and Mayor of Dunkerque, France. This project restructured and regularized tenure in several informal settlements. Residents were granted right of use (as opposed to ownership titles). Infrastructure and zones for economic activities were provided. The following issues emerged during discussion: natural urban growth versus rural-urban migration, and strategies for dealing with both issues; how the resettlement process was carried out for displaced persons; need for assuring resources, for example, a global Habitat Fund; and more co-ordinated efforts to disseminate Best Practices as well as lessons learned from failures, globally. It was stated that the population increase in Dakar was more due to natural growth that to rural migration, but that this also needed to be planned for. Part of the solution lay in developing other regions and in avoiding rural-urban conflict. The fear of being relocated a long way from the original settlement was based on the possibility of loosing access to existing economic activities and sources of income. The need to create an information exchange network (including Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan etc) was highlighted. A horizontal evaluation of slum-upgrading experiences would be useful within this context. Community Driven Provision of Universal Sanitation in Indian Cities This case study was presented by Ms. Sheela Patel (SPARC), in collaboration with Mr. A Jockin (NSDF) and Mr. Vijay Mathankar (Slum Rehabilitation Authority, Mumbai). The facilitator was Ms. Lydia Mabel Martinez de Jimemez, Director of Housing, Argentina. The case covers Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. The project builds improved toilets through a partnership between provincial governments, local authorities, NGOs and community organizations.
The discussion highlighted the following points: the solidarity built among various actors to find solution to a common problem; the need to recognize that the problems of the slums are problems of the whole city; the very important role played by women and the importance of an inclusive approach in service provision. The partnerships between NGOs and local authorities was recognized as one of the most important features of this experience. It was explained that the cost of design was borne by the NGO as its contribution to the community "up-bringing" process. Training benefits to the community were recognized as being widely applicable. These included skills in design, construction and supervision. A very important lesson from this case was the need for inclusiveness in service provision. SESSION 2: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT The third session of the Thematic Committee was held on Thursday 7 June from 09.00 hours to 13.00 hours. The session focused on urban environmental management and four cases were presented. Tanzania: Environmental planning and management in Dar es Salaam The case was presented by Dr.Tumsifu Jonas Nnkya, Director, Institute of Human Settlements Studies, UCLAS, University of Tanzania. The facilitator was Dr. Reuben Mutiso, Architect-Planner, Kenya. The presentation highlighted the conflicts arising from the interaction between development and natural resources as well as the problems of a city where 70 percent of the population live in unplanned settlements. The city has addressed these and other problems through a bottom up participatory process involving diverse stakeholders. Specific activities include participatory environmental planning as well as upgrading of some neighbourhoods. This programme has been scaled up to cover all the major towns of the country. An observation emerging from the questions and comments was that the programme has extensively and successfully employed the principles of partnership, participation, inclusiveness and gender equity. It was also highlighted that the programme had combined waste management, and upgrading with poverty reduction through use of community contracts for infrastructure upgrading.
During upgrading, relocation had been avoided by compromising on infrastructure standards. However, it was pointed out that the issue of better standards may have to be revisited in the future. While property values had gone up, the majority of residents are owners, so nobody has been pushed out. The dangers of rising property value were however recognized. Urban agriculture has been recognized as a legitimate land use and is now reflected in urban policy. The high level of decentralization in Tanzania and the governance climate had made it relatively easy to mobilize the community for this programme. Developing a Sustainable Compact City in Stockholm, Sweden The case was presented by Mr. Mats Pemer, Director, Strategic Department, Stockholm City Planning Administration. The facilitator was Mr. Toshiyasu Noda, Counselor for Disaster Preparedness, Cabinet Office, Japan. Stockholm is a "city of blue and green" (water and green areas). The city has accommodated growth while avoiding urban sprawl by land re-development of certain old areas, and creative development of mixed residential-commercial neighbourhoods. Stockholm was commended for the combination of housing with job creation, and also for the discipline in keeping to the concept of a compact city. An important question raised was how long the city could continue to "expand inwards"? The answer given was "approximately the next thirty years". The issue of whether or not the city was addressing (through law and taxation) the increase in land values caused by compacting the city was raised. 70 percent of the land is government owned but on lease to private companies. So this problem was under control. It was observed that inward expansion tends to push out the very low income groups, and that this is always a danger and a difficult problem to address. Comprehensive Urban Environmental Renovation in Chengdu, China The case was presented by Mr. Shaoxiong Wang, Vice Mayor of Chengdu Municipality and facilitated by Mr. Toshiyasu Noda, Counselor for Disaster Preparedness, Cabinet Office, Japan.
The Fu and Nan rivers flow through the historic city of Chengdu. Accelerated urbanization and rapid industrialization had caused severe pollution of the two rivers. Other problems were alternate drying up or flooding with severe consequences to the city. Environmental rehabilitation was triggered by a letter from the students of a primary school on the banks of the Nan river asking the mayor to rescue the rivers. The programme involved cleaning up the rivers and resettling residents off the rivers’ banks. The discussion revealed that the importance of mobilizing funding from multiple stakeholders including community organizations, social bodies, private sector, central and local government, including companies from the relevant sectors – water, electricity, transport, as well central government incentives. Cross-regional collaboration along the rivers’ course had also been necessary. Relocation had been acceptable to all affected families because they were moving to bigger and better spaces and there was an attempt to keep neighbourhoods together in the resettlement area. Long-term sustainability issues raised included future disaster mitigation and systems for monitoring environmental conditions in Chengdu (and in cities in general, especially those in extreme climates). Environmental Management and City Development Strategy for Katowice Agglomeration, Poland The case was presented by Mr. Piotr Uszok, Mayor of Katowice and Ms. Justine Gorgon, Project Manager. The facilitator was Dr. Reuben Mutiso, ArchitectPlanner, Kenya. Katowice, a highly industrialized region, has suffered from years of heedless mining resulting in environmental degradation. The project involves rehabilitation and re-use of post-industrial areas, municipal waste and sewage management and revitalization of the urban environment. The need to establish functioning urban environment indicators and to apply them in monitoring and modifying the urban environment was highlighted. In this connection, it was observed that the UNCHS Urban Indicators Programme had been useful and the process was already underway on Katowice, The problems and potentials of inter-municipal collaboration in large agglomerations were also highlighted. The role of women in the programme and initiatives taken to address women’s employment in an area that traditionally had jobs for men was another important observation made. Fortunately, Katowice was moving in the right direction in this regard.
Also highlighted was the useful role of the United Nations in facilitating exchange of experiences on environmental management with other cities. SESSION 3: URBAN GOVERNANCE The fourth session of the Committee was held on Thursday 7 June from 15.00 hours till 19.00 hours. Four cases were presented, all of them focusing on urban governance issues and challenges. Integrated Programme for Social inclusion in Santo Andre, Brazil The case was presented by Mr. Celso Daniel, Mayor of Santo Andre and facilitated by Ms. Aydan Erim, Consultant, Housing Development Administration, Turkey. The presentation dealt with social inclusion on the basis of a pilot project designed to transform slums into popular neighbourhoods integrated into the fabric of the city. The discussion started with a presentation by Mr. Joaquim Roriz, Governor of the Federal District of Brasilia on the improvement of Samambaïa. Lessons learnt in Santo Andre and Brasilia concerning mechanisms for overcoming obstacles to inter-agency collaboration were highlighted. The importance of a supportive or enabling political context and political good-will was also underscored. This had provided a very positive environment for the programme. The issue of financing of projects and sustainability was also raised and it was pointed out that people were more confident to invest their own savings if they had secure tenure. The importance of inclusion of the poor in the planning process and not only in terms of housing was highlighted. This would improve the self-esteem of poor communities and guarantee their continued involvement. The potential of participatory budgeting was also underlined. This entailed the setting of priorities by the poor either directly or through their elected representatives. It was further observed that urban politics and power are important factors in programmes aiming at social inclusion. Many analyses tended to "sanitize" projects, presenting them only in technical terms and ignoring the often very powerful motivating forces of politics and "vote-catching".
City Development Strategy in Response to Globalization in Lyon, France The case was presented by Mr. Gerard Collomb, Mayor of Lyon and President of Greater Lyon. It was facilitated by Mr. Patrick Wakely, Director, Development Planning Unit, London University. The presentation dealt with city development strategies for improving competitiveness and achieving economic growth and social inclusion. An important issue emerging from the discussion was on how to stimulate and sustain public debate between different levels of government. The nature of public-private partnership was discussed, including mechanisms for ensuring that both risks and benefits were shared among the involved partners. In this connection, the strategic role of local authorities in stimulating private sector involvement was also highlighted. Some time was also devoted to the issue of the urban renewal of high-rise residential areas developed in the 1960s in Lyon and also in many other European cities. These dilapidated residential areas, which had become a vehicle for social segregation, had been rehabilitated, but this should be seen as dealing with the consequences of a solution which was appropriate at a given historical period. The relationship between participatory and representative democracy within urban governance was raised. In Lyon, while openness was accepted as a fundamental principle, the participatory process had yet to include large numbers of people and there was ongoing debate about this issue and about participatory budgeting in urban renewal. It was emphasized that in urban renewal projects such as the one in Lyon, there was a need for striking a balance between zones of development and conserved natural zones. It was further recognized that mechanisms for handling conflict within communities participating in urban renewal needed to be put in place. Finally, the need to recognize the constant dynamic of renovation and renewal was stressed. Socio-economic change is a continual process and urban planning needs to develop mechanisms for addressing change within the context of the built environment. Sustainable Urban Development and Good Urban Governance in Nigeria The case was presented by Mr. Wole Okunfulure, Director of Lands, Urban and Regional Development, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in collaboration with Mr. Garba Madaki Ali, Minister of State for Works and Housing. The
facilitator was Mr. Patrick Wakely, DPU, London University. The presentation dealt with recent policy changes introduced at the national level as part of reforming urban governance, as well as with a number of related specific programmes and projects. An important issue raised in the discussion was the importance of taking advantage of major political changes to introduce social and economic reforms in the human settlements sector. This clearly is what had happened in this programme, which had taken advantage of the new democratic environment brought by the transition from military dictatorship to multi-party democracy. The potentials and dangers of devolution were also discussed. Some felt that too much devolution ran the risk of balkanizing the nation state. After all, the nation state was still very fragile in many parts of the developing world. Another issue highlighted in the discussion was the development of strategies for combating corruption in the process of improving transparency in urban governance, an important goal in this case. Finally, the importance of taking bold risks in governance reforms was highlighted, as was the need of mechanisms for ensuring spatially balanced development. Sustainable Economic Transformation and Decentralization in Barcelona, Spain The case was presented Mr. Joan Clos, Mayor of Barcelona and facilitated by Ms. Aydan Erim, Consultant, Housing Development Administration, Turkey. The presentation highlighted the experience of Barcelona in urban renewal, including rehabilitation of its historical city centre, areas of residential decay and a beachfront slum. An important issue raised in the discussion was the need to address the negative impacts of gentrification on low-income communities. The importance of conserving the historical heritage of old city centres was emphasized. Urban renewal projects should not aim at destroying and rebuilding, but at rehabilitating and conserving. The importance of inclusiveness, of redeveloping and up-grading with the residents was identified as the most effective guarantee of cooperation by the public. The Barcelona project demonstrated the social role of the private sector in renewal programmes, beyond profit-making, and this model could be used elsewhere.
The case also demonstrated the effectiveness of strategic planning, based on the long-term needs of the city residents. Facilities built for the Olympic Games were designed with the future needs of the city in mind, not just for that particular event. It was also emphasized that the problem of urban sprawl needs to be addressed through the enforcement of appropriate urban development densities. The discussion further emphasized the importance of institutionalizing public participation, the need for public policies to protect the young and the poor from being expelled from redeveloped areas by real estate interests and the need for cultural sensitivity to protect common heritage. SESSION 4: ERADICATION OF POVERTY The fifth session of the Thematic Committee was held on Friday 8 June 2001 from 09.00 to 12.00 hours. The session focused on the subject of eradication of poverty. Three cases were presented. Urban Community Development Fund, Thailand The case was presented by Ms. Somsook Boonyabancha, CODI and facilitated by Dr. Esfandiar Kharad Zebardast, Senior Advisor, National Habitat Committee, Iran. The project focused on how the Community Development Fund (CDF) of Thailand was created as a tool for poverty eradication empowering both the urban and rural poor. The discussion raised a number of issues. First, participants wanted to know whether the CDF had any specific training component. In response, the presenter pointed out that the CDF used existing knowledge and expertise within the community through a system of sharing and networking. Project implementation is a continual learning process. The standard of housing projects implemented may not be very high, but they are adequate, appropriate and ones which the communities can work with. The second issue was to do with the large initial capital invested into CDF and whether of not this can be replicable. The discussion however revealed that the initial capital need not be as high as in the CDF case and that similar organizations had started with much smaller amounts. An initial capital investment is necessary, but beyond that such funds should be self-financing. What is important is to start the process and linking the initial capital investment to the savings of the community. Concerning the issue of communities making their own surveys to identify their own problems, it was stated that surveys are done by community networks rather
than by experts. The communities are involved in the surveys from the beginning to the end, and the whole process is a learning one and is completely owned by the people. Regarding subsidies and replication potential, it was explained that the process is replicable, as had been shown by the spread of the fund to 55 provinces. The subsidy to communities is in the form of low interest rate loans. It was pointed out that many community initiatives grind to a halt because of the inability to sustain motivation and therefore participation. However, in the case of the Thai CDF, the fact that the fund is completely owned by the people ensures continued interest and participation. All of the housing developed through the CDF utilized the cooperative approach, though this approach is not imposed on members. The financing of housing starts with community savings, which are then linked to loans from the fund at low interest rates. With regard to the method of community organization, it is people living or working together that initiate the savings groups. These eventually link with other groups to form larger groups. Sometimes individuals already knowledgeable are sent into other communities to provide information on how to start. In the end, wide networks encompassing both urban and rural areas are formed. Participatory Planning and Budgeting in Villa El Salvador, Peru The case was presented by Mr. Martin Pumar, Mayor of Villa El Salvador and Mr. Gustavo Riofrio, Desco. The facilitator was Ms. Jacqueline daCosta, DirectorGeneral, Ministry of Lands and Environment, Jamaïca. The case dealt with the process by which a system of participatory planning and budgeting was introduced and how the plan was implemented. An important issue emerging from the discussion was on how to institutionalize the participation process, including the need for a legal framework, which is critical for the sustainability of the process. The importance of political will was emphasized. This requires commitment at the national level, in addition to the local level. It was also stated that existing organizations need to be included and strengthened. The participation of communities in strategic planning and in assessing the costs of urban services was highlighted as an innovative approach. However, the relationship between representative and direct democracy involved in participatory budgeting needed clarification.
Participatory budgeting would be extended to cover 100% of the city budget, and could be extended to the national level. Reduction of Urban Poverty in Morocco The case was presented by Mr. Monceyf Fadili, National Coordinator, Programme Pilote de Lutte contre la Pauvreté Urbaine. The facilitator was Ms. Jacqueline daCosta, Director-General, Ministry of Lands and Environment Jamaïca. The case described a national pilot programme on urban poverty reduction launched in 1998. In the discussion, the use of regions for integrated development was highlighted, as were the issues of devolution of power, community participation, emphasis on social policies, participation, partnerships, strengthening capacities of all partners and mobilization of funds, the use of the pilot approach to see how the various activities would be organized and sustainability. It was revealed that many government departments were involved in this integrated project, including education, health, youth and sport, employment and habitat. It was highlighted that pilot programmes such as this one do not aim to directly reduce poverty, but to develop effective ways and approaches for developing local poverty reduction programmes. The importance of training and capacity-building in the project was highlighted, as was the need for political will, international support, use of people resources (such as sweat equity, their involvement in decision-making, use of indigenous ways to solve problems) and the role of local authorities in addressing issues at the local level. It was further highlighted that there is an abundance of financial resources globally. The real challenge is to find ways of directing a small proportion of these resources towards urban poverty reduction. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS AND OBSERVATIONS In the discussion of conclusions (on Friday 8 June between 12.00 and 13.00 hours) the issues and observations below were highlighted. (a) From the experiences presented, it is clear that the Habitat Agenda is indeed being implemented in many parts of the world. (b) Local authorities play a very important role in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and need to be strengthened.
(c) The development of partnerships in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda has been one of the most significant developments since Habitat II. (d) The role of women was crucial in many cases to ensure success. (e) It is important not to sideline cultural dimensions in the implementation of human settlements projects, even though globalization forces appear to be moving towards greater standardization of approaches and methods. There is much useful knowledge in local approaches and this should not be lost. (f) The architectural and physical-morphological dimensions of human settlements programmes and projects appear to have been neglected in recent years and need to receive greater emphasis.
(g) Some of the concepts used in recent years tend to be too ambiguous and have not been supported by thorough scientific or systematic analysis. Some of them are ideologically motivated and not culturally neutral. (h) The cases presented have shown that there are many similarities in the problems and dilemmas facing different countries, developed and developing, such as the need to rehabilitate historical city centres, resettlement of households from disaster-prone areas and slum upgrading. (i) The Thematic Committee format is certainly a very good and innovative way of sharing substantive experiences and could be adopted as a standard format of similar United Nations meetings in future, including Rio + 10. Poverty reduction requires that the poor be seen as "subjects" rather than "objects", be agents for their own betterment and contribute in a significant way to structural change. Poverty is fundamentally a structural problem and its solution requires structural changes.
(k) There is a need to ensure that training institutions receive enough support in order to enable them to produce professionals with relevant knowledge and skills. (l) Reducing poverty requires sharing responsibility by all in society, including the poor and this responsibility should be linked to urban rights. Rights and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
(m) The cases presented have shown that there are still many problems concerning vertical coordination between different levels of government, and horizontal cooperation between actors at the city level.
(n) Policies should not try to resist the dynamism of urban growth, and the appropriate response should be continual innovation that enables to deal with change. (o) The role of transport in linking cities and other settlements needs greater attention. The Habitat Agenda clearly recognizes this but, from the cases presented, it appears that this has not been sufficiently addressed. (p) Most of the cases presented have demonstrated the crucial roles of vision, leadership, commitment and long-term strategic planning in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. (q) International assistance in human settlements development programmes and projects is important, but should be based on the mobilization of local resources, financial and human, and national initiatives. (r) South-south cooperation has been highlighted by some of the cases presented as a powerful tool for sharing information, transferring technology and initiating change.
(s) Evaluation of projects funded by international agencies should adopt a process-oriented approach rather an output oriented one. (t) The replicability of many of the projects presented is very high, and some have already demonstrated this potential. So the sharing of knowledge through the mechanism of the Thematic Committee has been very useful.
PRESENTATION OF THE COMMITTEE'S REPORT TO PLENARY The Chairman presented his summary report on the work of the Committee to the General Assembly Plenary on Friday 8 June 2001 at 18.00 hours. In his summary, the Chairman pointed out that the Thematic Committee had been a major innovation in the history of the General Assembly. The Committee had achieved its objective, which was to draw conclusions from selected case studies regarding the implementation of the Habitat Agenda since the Istanbul Conference in 1996. He emphasized that delegations had benefited a great deal from the excellent presentations which had shown how the Habitat Agenda had been implemented in a concrete manner in sixteen countries representing all regions of the world. The standard of debate had been very high. The first goal of the Habitat Agenda, "Adequate Shelter for All", had been more than a slogan: whether it is the improvement of existing neighbourhoods or the production of new housing, this goal was being implemented in many countries.
The Committee had been very impressed by the success and the effective application of the basic principles of the Habitat Agenda on the integrated and participatory management of the local environment. The third part of the Committee had been devoted to a theme which has become more and more important in recent years, i.e. "Urban Governance". Countries in the South, just as much as those in the North, are seeking to improve governance of their cities and very interesting lessons can be drawn and shared among different countries, from North and South. All these experiences had shown that the commitments made in Istanbul on urban governance were not just on paper. Even though there is not yet a common definition of good urban governance, implementation had nevertheless proceeded. The participants in the Committee had once again demonstrated that the United Nations was the best forum for the exchange of experience and good practices. The Chairman congratulated UNCHS (Habitat) which had been able to organize a very well balanced Thematic Committee in terms of the themes addressed, the countries covered and also the authors of the presentations. He concluded with the wish to see the work of the Committee give birth to a synthesis document which would make available to all Habitat Partners relevant reference material from which they could benefit in the formulation and implementation their respective national programmes.