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close this bookHabitat Debate - Vol. 3 - No. 1 - 1997 - Partnerships (HABITAT, 1997, 65 p.)
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Partners Update

Breaking New Ground

The Habitat Partners’ Consultation

by Han van Putten

One of the most striking characteristics of Habitat II was the way in which the Partnership Principle was implemented. In no other UN conference have local authorities, NGOs and the private sector had so much opportunity to influence decision-making; their representatives participated in drafting groups and committees; their suggested amendments to the draft Habitat Agenda were circulated as official documents; a committee of the Conference was created for the special purpose of organizing exchanges of views between Government delegates and the Partner groups.

This “new wave” is likely to continue in the UN. Not only did the General Assembly “recognize with satisfaction” the innovative arrangements introduced at the Conference to forge partnership among various actors, it also confirmed the request of the Conference to the Commission on Human Settlements to review its working methods in order to involve representatives of local authorities, the private sector and NGOs in its work.

Another step in the same direction was taken by the Assistant Secretary-General of the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Dr. Wally N’Dow, when he convened a Partners’ Consultation on 31 January 1997 in Geneva, Switzerland. Almost 120 representatives of the major groups which had organized Forums or other parallel events during Habitat II accepted the invitation.

The purpose of the meeting was to have an informal exchange of views on some of the important items which are on the agenda of the 16th session of the Commission on Human Settlements which will take place in Nairobi, from 28 April to 7 May 1997. The most far-reaching of these was a proposal to enlarge the membership of the Commission from the present 58 to 92 by adding 14 representatives from local government, 12 from NGOs and 8 from the private sector. It had been realized that the adaptation of the rules of procedure of the Commission, which these changes would entail, would not be accepted without intensive discussion. Dr. N’Dow had, therefore, suggested that the proposal be considered in an open-ended working group during the session. The participants in the Partners’ Consultation were aware of the importance of the proposal, which they promised to support in discussions with the appropriate Government Ministries back home.

The new rules will not come into force before the 17th session of the Commission. Following the example of the General Assembly when it discussed the Habitat II report, the Commission may nevertheless decide to give the floor to Partners’ representatives in informal meetings during the 16th session.

Another subject discussed with the Partners was their role in the implementation and monitoring of the Habitat Agenda. Several partners’ groups and regional caucuses mentioned that they had already started to implement different articles in the Agenda. The UN Centre for Human Settlements planned to draft guidelines for implementation and a framework for monitoring. There was general agreement that the monitoring and evaluation activities should first of all focus on the drafting and execution of National and Local Plans of Action.

Participants stressed that implementation by Governments and UN agencies should, in addition to being monitored by themselves, be assessed by independent agencies such as NGOs and research institutes whose reports should be brought to the attention of the Commission.

Other important items on the agenda of the 16th session of the Commission and referred to at the Partners’ Consultation were the Centre’s Medium-Term Plan for 1998 to 2001 and its Work Programme for 1998-1999. It is the intention of the Centre to execute the programme in cooperation with the Partners, which were also invited to contribute to its design. The Centre is working on a matrix which will indicate with which actors the Centre intends to carry out its work programme for the period 1998-1999.

Some participants remarked that several of the actions recommended in the Habitat Agenda were not new programmes but belonged to their ongoing work. Among the items which the participants recommended for special attention in the Work Programme were: widely publicizing the Habitat Agenda, including the publication of popular versions in several languages; reinforcing National and Local Plans of Action through appropriate legislation; monitoring housing rights violations; improving working environments; promoting the use of environment-friendly building materials.

The need to expand the e-mail network among Partners, especially in developing countries, was also mentioned. The Centre announced that it was working on a common framework and hope in April 1997 to circulate a draft for comments.

Several partner groups announced that they would hold meetings in Nairobi in connection with the 16th Commission session: the World Associations of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination (WACLAC) will hold their General Assembly on 25 and 26 April; an NGO conference will take place on 26 and 27 April; women’s and youth organizations are planning several parallel activities.

In closing the Partners’ Consultation, several speakers emphasized that the UN was breaking new ground. The steps which had been taken in the direction of a “Network Society” offered major challenges to the partners. How can they now make best use of these new opportunities?

Han van Putten is the ex-Secretary of the Habitat II NGO International Facilitating Group.

For more information on the Geneva Consultation, please contact:

Jos Maseland, Human Settlements Officer, UNCHS (Habitat)
P.O. Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya,
Tel: (254-2) 623044
Fax: (254-2) 623080

The Global Parliamentarians on Habitat

The Global Parliamentarians on Habitat is the only international Parliamentarian group which is concentrating its activities directly on issues concerning human settlements. It was founded in 1987 in Yokohama, Japan, during the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless and has been collaborating closely with UNCHS (Habitat) ever since. It held its eleventh meeting in Istanbul, Turkey in June 1996 at the Parliamentarians Forum held prior to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).

During the Habitat II preparatory process, the Global Parliamentarians identified the need for reviewing global progress in the area of legislation concerning human settlements issues as a priority action. Work on this review is ongoing with the participation of the Regional Councils of the Global Parliamentarians in cooperation with UNCHS (Habitat) and institutions in the regions.

1996-1997 Programme of activities

At its eleventh meeting, the Global Parliamentarians on Habitat defined the focus of its activities for the 1996-1997 period at the national and international levels.

At the national level the focus of activities will be to:

(i) promote the establishment of national groups of Parliamentarians on Habitat;

(ii) conduct public consultations in participation with all partners and other stakeholders on the problems and needs in human settlements and housing and to seek consensus in the approaches to solutions;

(iii) evaluate the legislation in issues relating to human settlements and housing and identify actions required to improve them;

(iv) promote the drafting, review and updating of legislation;

(v) participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policies which relate to development of sustainable human settlements and access to adequate shelter for all;

(vi) promote the reorganization of administrative structures at all levels of government, especially at the local level.

In Mexico, the National Forum of Parliamentarians on Habitat was held from 17 to 19 October 1996 with the participation of almost 1,000 people, including 150 Parliamentarians as well as federal, state and municipal authorities, academics, researchers, professionals and community leaders. The Forum decided to update the national legal framework at the federal and local levels in Mexico by January 1998.

At the international level the focus of activities will be to:

(i) strengthen the organization to become a permanent operation at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels;

(ii) promote at the national, sub-regional, regional and global levels the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Declaration of Principles of the Global Forum of Parliamentarians on Habitat and the Global Plan of Action adopted by the Habitat II Conference.

(iii) contribute to the enactment of laws and adoption of public policies in urban development and financing for infrastructure, public services and housing to meet the demands of an urbanizing world.

(iv) establish a network for the exchange of information through Information Technology facilities on legislative, political and institutional experiences at the national, regional and global levels regarding human settlements and housing.

(v) promote technology transfer and technical cooperation in the field of human settlements to enhance capacity in developing countries.

In order to mobilize action towards these objectives a series of regional meetings of Global Parliamentarians on Habitat are planned. The first meeting, for the American continent, is to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in April 1997 upon the invitation of the President of the General Assembly of the Uruguayan Parliament.

Meetings planned for other regions are Europe (June 1997), Asia (June 1997) and Africa (July 1997).

The next international meeting of Global Parliamentarians on Habitat, planned to be held in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico in January 1998, will review progress in legislation and public policy at the national and regional levels to implement the Habitat Agenda.

For more information, please contact:

Global Parliamentarians on Habitat
c/o Senator Oscar L Velarde Vega,
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Office Reforma No. 10
Piso 11, Privado 9
Col. Centro
Deleg. Cueuhtemoc
C.P. 06018 Mexico, D.F.
Tel/Fax: 525-535-1413 or 535-0840 (ext. 3059)

Cooperation between FIG and Habitat

The International Federation of Surveyors, known as FIG from its French title (Federation Internationale des Ges), was founded in 1878. Since then, it has sought to ensure that surveying and all who practise as surveyors meet the needs of the communities that they serve. FIG is an international non-governmental organization accredited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It defines surveying in a broad way from the measurement and mapping of the land and seas, through valuation and assessment and construction economics, to the overall management of land and land-related resources. FIG supports the objectives of Habitat and shares many of its ideals. Although surveyors are concerned with only some of the issues associated with managing urban growth, FIG believes that effective and efficient management of land and property are vital to sustainability.

In recent years FIG, has built a close relationship with UNCHS (Habitat) through a number of collaborative undertakings. In 1990 at its four-yearly Congress held in Helsinki, Finland, it invited the then Executive Director of Habitat, Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, to give the Keynote Address. In August 1995, it organized a Round Table Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, that was also attended by a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This not only resulted in a FIG Special Publication on Land Tenure, Land Management and Land Information Systems but also stimulated thoughts about rural-urban linkages. For Habitat II, FIG organized the Dialogue on “Rural-Urban Linkages”, which was sponsored by the International Federation of Real Estate Developers (FIABCI).

In January 1997, a memorandum of understanding between FIG and UNCHS (Habitat) was signed to establish a framework of partnership for implementing land and construction-related recommendations contained in the Habitat Agenda. Various joint activities to strengthen the capacity of civil society and Governments at the regional and local levels have been proposed.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Sylvie Lacroux
Shelter and Community Services Section
Research and Development Division
UNCHS (Habitat)
P.O. Box 30030
Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: (254-2)624265 or 624266/7

Youth for Habitat

The Habitat II Conference brought youth from all over the World to address issues of youth involvement in the development of human settlements. Under the umbrella “Youth for Habitat”, youth unanimously came up with the “Vision Statement” which appears in detail in the Habitat Agenda. Of particular importance is Chapter 1 paragraphs 13 & 14 which foresee youth involvement particularly with regard to human settlements management emphasizing utilization of youth potential, creativity and views. The Habitat Agenda clearly elaborates on the importance of youth in its implementation and the need to develop mechanisms that youth should incorporate in their activities. “Youth for Habitat” believe that a strong sense of civic engagement and commitment to the community should be developed early in a person’s life, through meaningful participation and volunteer work.

As a follow-up to the Habitat II Conference, “Youth for Habitat” members converged in Vienna, Austria under the auspices of the World Youth Forum from 25 to 29 November 1996. The meeting was successful in many ways. New members joined the “Youth For Habitat” approach and recommended that human settlements be included as a priority area in the World Plan of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond which was annexed in the preamble of the Forum’s report.

This year youth have started their activities on a high note. Some “Youth for Habitat” members attended the recent Partners’ Consultation Meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 31 January 1997, to deliberate on UNCHS (Habitat)’s revitalization plan and the incorporation of youth focus and activities in the Medium Term Plan of 1998-2001 and Work Programme of UNCHS (Habitat) for 1998-1999.

Currently, “Youth for Habitat” is working hard on institutionalization of their structures and preparing Plans of Action at the national levels. It is anticipated that important steps will be undertaken in developing proper organizational structures before the International Youth for Habitat Consultation planned to take place later this year, in Turkey.

Efforts are also being made to mobilize youth organizations all around the World such as YWCA, YMCA and the European Youth Forum in the realization of the goals of the Habitat Agenda. This is in unison with Chapter IV paragraph 120 of the Habitat Agenda which elaborates on how to develop the full potential of young people and prepare them to take responsible roles in the development of human settlements.

For more details on “Youth for Habitat” activities, please contact:

Selman Erguden
Youth Focal Point, UNCHS (Habitat)
Tel: 254-2-624231
Fax: 254-2-623080
Nairobi, Kenya


Future Leaders and Present Partners

by Sezai Hazir

Youth are one of the major population groups in the world. In developing countries, more than 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 30 and a large proportion of these young people are concentrated in urban areas.

As dynamic and visionary members of society, youth see an opportunity in the Habitat II process to use their potential to benefit the whole of society while identifying, solving and monitoring its own problems. Youth have taken the implementation of the Habitat Agenda seriously; in doing so they seek to establish partnerships with other interested parties. This partnership should be based on equality in planning, management, participation, implementation and monitoring. Within this vision, youth should cease to be mere observers and targets for other groups and start to take action in equal terms together with other parties. Youth should not only be regarded as the leaders of the future but partners in the present.

Youth For Habitat, working jointly with the United Nations, is an international youth network, its main objectives being to increase youth participation in the Habitat II process and to promote youth as partners. Youth For Habitat organized a youth forum during the Istanbul Conference and launched a vision statement, outlining basic principles in implementing the Habitat Agenda. After the Conference, a network started to implement the decisions of the Conference. In 1998, Youth For Habitat-Italy will organize a consultation on the theme of partnership.

Youth For Habitat-Turkey, has drafted a three-year project proposal together with our partners for implementing the Habitat Agenda in Turkey. Within this project, we plan to organize international youth consultations, to publish and distribute a newsletter and to establish national and local youth councils. In September 1997, there will be an international youth consultation on implementation of the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21. We are looking forward to see all partners supporting this project and contributing to our vision for a better future.

Sezai Hazir is a member of Youth for Habitat-Turkey.

Implementing the Habitat II Agenda in Africa

The Coalition for the Development of Urban Africa

In this era of globalization, African cities will become increasingly unliveable unless they find concrete ways of collaborating with each other in complementary ways. Greater exchanges and links of all kinds will be necessary in order to provide the necessary economic framework for them to exist in a changed international arena. In many respects, these linkages are already taking place on the ground, through migration and small trade. But much effort is required in order to enable actors in individual cities to think of development plans and opportunities in terms of what is taking place in other African cities, to exchange information, experiences and perspectives.

Because of these concerns and orientations, the Coalition for the Development of Urban Africa has launched an initial three-year programme to implement the Habitat II Agenda in Africa. The Coalition, a grouping of NGO activists, researchers and other professionals, is an outgrowth of the African NGO Habitat II Caucus. Through detailed consultations with its members, the Coalition programme is being developed in two components: (1) A Regional Framework of New Approaches to Urban Development and (2) Implementing Local Habitat II Agendas.

The first component combines a systematic process of networking among urban development organizations across subregions, retrieving and disseminating documentation of all kinds related to African urban development, expanding interactions with key regional and international institutions and generating strategic analyses based on the consolidation of NGO experiences in the urban field.

The second component, “Implementing Local Habitat II Agendas,” entails the systematic conceptualization, preparation and implementation of intersectoral urban development initiatives and investment programmes in ten African cities.

The Coalition’s programme has been conceptualized in the context of the important lessons generated from African NGOs experiences and several key international urban development initiatives during the past several years, including the Urban Management Programme, the Local Agenda 21 Initiatives, the UNDP LIFE Programme, the Sustainable Cities Programme, Towns and Development Local Initiatives for Global Development, and the Megacities Programme.

African NGOs feel strongly that the momentum of Habitat II cannot be lost, that Istanbul marked a watershed in linking new forms of local and multilateral action and in recognizing that Government, civil society and the international community must concretize effective ways of working together. We are prepared and committed to do our part.

Submitted by AbdouMaliq Simone, Senior Researcher at the Secretariat of the Coalition for the Development of Urban Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal.

For more information, please contact:


Secretariat - Coordination:
10 Bd du Canal IV
BP 3370 Dakar
Tel:(221) 253 200
Fax:(221) 253 232

The Partners Update column is intended for all partners who wish to share information on their activities and achievements, particularly in relation to implementation of the Habitat Agenda. If you would like to contribute to this column, please send your submission to:

Rasna Warah, Acting Editor
Habitat Debate
P.O. Box 30030
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254-2) 623988
Fax: (254-2) 624333

The Following items have been extracted from NGO News on Human Settlements (1996 No.2), compiled by Rooftops Canada and published by UNCHS (Habitat). Starting with this issue of Habitat Debate, information on NGOs will be incorporated in the Partners Update Column. NGO News on Human Settlements will no longer be issued as a separate publication.

NGOs Prepare for CHS 16

NGOs have begun to organize for their participation at the 16th session of the Commission on Human Settlements (CHS 16). A group of NGOs meeting in New York at the time of the UN General Assembly debate have taken the initiative to organize NGO meetings on 26 and 27 April 1997 prior to the CHS 16 which takes place from 28 April to 7 May 1997 in Nairobi, Kenya.

For more information contact:

Nicky Nzioki
P.O. Box 48974
Tel: 254 2 724 525
Fax: 254 2 718 549

The Habitat International Coalition (HIC) will also be holding its annual meeting on Saturday 26 April 1997, before CHS16 starts.

For more information, contact:

Davinder Lamba
Mazingira Institute
P.O. Box 14550
Tel: 254 2 443 219/443 226
Fax: 254 2 444 643

ACHR Newsletter

The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) newsletter has published a special Habitat II issue for June 1996. It features articles focusing on the past 20 years of urban housing for the poor in Asia. Using the first Habitat Conference 1976 as a starting point, the edition includes reflections from a variety of actors in Thailand, Pakistan, Japan, Nepal, Korea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. Views from grassroots peoples’ stories from urban Asia are also highlighted. There is an article on the founding of the International Homeless Peoples’ Federation, a report on the Asian Women and Shelter Network and an update on housing rights and evictions in Asia. Contact:

ACHR: 73 Soi Sonthiwattana 4
Ladprao 110, Ladprao Road
Bangkok 10310
Tel: 66 2 538 0919
Fax: 66 2 539 9950


The Environment Liaison Centre (ELCI) has set up a specific programme on follow-up to Habitat II and implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The programme will focus on two main areas: (1) policy-making and advocacy and (2) community implementation.

For more information, please contact:

Maria Arce
Habitat Programme Coordinator
Issue-Based Networks (IBN)
P.O. Box 72461
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254-2) 562015/562022/562172
Fax: (254-2) 562175

World Habitat Awards

Call for Entries

Entries are currently sought for the 1997 World Habitat Awards. 1997 is the thirteenth year of this annual competition, which has been highly successful in attracting outstanding human settlements projects. The winning projects have received world-wide publicity, with a view to encouraging their replication in many other countries.

Projects are sought, in both developed and developing countries, which offer sustainable futures to residents and which provide practical and imaginative solutions to current housing problems.

A panel of international assessors assess the projects. The two Award winners each year receive £10,000 plus an individually designed and crafted silver trophy. The Awards are presented each year on World Habitat Day and in 1996 were presented by Mr. Gr Kuncze, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Hungary in Budapest, Hungary.

The Building and Social Housing Foundation (B+SHF) is now calling for entries for 1997. Preliminary submissions should reach B+HSF by 31 July 1997.

For more information, please contact:

Diane Diacon
Deputy Director
Building and Social Housing Found (B+SHF)
Memorial Square
Leicestershire LE67 3TU
United Kingdom
Tel: +44-1530-510444
Fax: +44-1530-510332

“Maison de l’Habitat”

A New Roof for Habitat in Geneva

Thanks to the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland, the Europe Office of UNCHS (Habitat) has been able to expand its activities and locate its offices in a three-floor villa located in Bellevue, not far from the Palais des Nations and from the Geneva International Airport.

The Maison offers two large meeting rooms, a waiting room, a lounge with kitchen, a library, and twelve offices of various sizes. It has ample parking space and is surrounded by a vast park. It is connected to the main train station and to the Palais des Nations by a regular bus service.

Geneva hosts a wide variety of United Nations organizations, all of which have an important role to play in the implementation of the Istanbul Plan of Action - the Habitat Agenda. The Maison de l’Habitat will become an informal forum where synergies can be identified and developed with our United Nations partners in Geneva.

Because of the strong presence of representatives of all partners in the region, Geneva and the Maison de l’Habitat offer a strong basis for strengthening the partnership approach launched in Istanbul. In particular, the installation in Geneva of the new secretariat of the World Associations of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination (WACLAC) will provide the opportunity to give higher visibility to the essential role of Cities and Local Authorities in sustainable development and to pursue, on a regular basis, joint activities in support of the Habitat Agenda.

For more information, please contact:

Pietro Garau, Director, UNCHS Europe Office,
Maison de l’Habitat
33 Route de Valavran
1293 Bellevue
Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: (41-22) 7740550
Fax: (41-22) 7740568