| Commission on Human Setllements - 16th Session |
|16th Session of Commission on Human Setllements|
Nairobi-based NGOs formed a National Host Committee in January in anticipation of the commission's 16th session and held planning meetings and discussions regarding issues to be addressed at the session. A circular on The Partnership Agenda was sent to over 1600 NGOs around the world to provide easy-to-understand information on the main issues of discussion; the circular was jointly produced by the Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI), Shelter Forum, UNCHS and SNV-Kenya. Kenya-based NGOs also exchanged ideas on their role in the commission's work, especially in follow up and implementation of the Habitat Agenda, at a Nairobi workshop on 11 April entitled The Place and Role of the NGOs/CBOs (community-based organizations) in the. Post-lstanbul Process. Seventy-six representatives of 38 local NGOs attended the meeting.
On 26-27 April 165 participants attended the NGO Forum to discuss a report on Habitat Agenda follow up and implementation prepared by a consultant working for the International Facilitating Group (IFG). NGOs and CBOs met in daily caucus sessions. Daily editions of ECO Newsletter were produced, and NGOs and CBOs organized over ten parallel events on their experiences in the field of human settlements during the commission's session. NGOs were disappointed at the low level of government participation in several government-NGO dialogue sessions organized by UNCHS. A Partner's Committee, initiated by the World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination (WACLAC), ELCI, Youth for Habitat II, the Habitat International Coalition, Forum of Researchers, and the Women, Homes and Community Supercoalition, among others, was formed to facilitate and enhance partners' efforts to implement and monitor the Habitat Agenda. In the next two months the Partner's Committee will consider its decisionmaking mechanisms and functional structure. A further meeting for Kenya-based NGOs is planned for July to plan follow-up activities.
Contact: ELCI, PO Box 72461, Nairobi, Kenya, telephone +2542/562015, fax +254- 2/562175.
Cities and Local Authorities
The World Association of Cities and Local Authorities Coordination convened an event on 25 April in Nairobi to discuss the lessons of Istanbul, and to build a new partnership approach with the commission during its 16th session. WACLAC stressed what it called huge expectations that the promising Habitat II conference had aroused in the local government sector in terms of partnership. "Local governments ask now," said the association, "for the CHS to deepen this partnership by recognizing their specific responsibility and making room for local government to play an active part in CHS policy formation."
WACLAC says it intends to concentrate its efforts through local government networks worldwide to "make the Habitat Agenda a fruitful and effective programme for improving the quality of life of our citizens." According to the association, the essential concerns for the international local government community committed to the success of the Habitat Agenda are promotion of democratic decentralization and local autonomy; a constructive spirit of partnership; and shared responsibility and participation.
Norbert Burger, President of WACLAC and Mayor of Cologne (Germany), said the Commission on Human Settlements should commit itself to involving local governments fully in its work, and to initiate jointly with WACLAC the process of preparation of a Worldwide Charter of Local Self-Government, for promulgation by the United Nations.
A private sector roundtable presented its findings to the commission on 29 April. The roundtable, which was convened by Habitat, said partnerships between the UNCHS (Habitat) and the private sector are welcome, useful and appropriate. However participants, comprising 50 representatives of Habitat's network of private sector partners, said the attitude of the private sector toward UN organizations in general is ambiguous, since "it was generally felt that the bureaucratic structure of the United Nations made it an unsuitable business partner."
Participants said that although there is tremendous potential for business in low-income countries, the private sector remains largely unaware of these opportunities. Participants suggested that greater knowledge and information on human settlements could attract potential private sector investment.
Roundtable participants recommended that Habitat disseminate information on local opportunities and facilitate contact between governments, local authorities and the private sector. They also recommended that Habitat establish a private sector service bureau, and develop an electronic network linking Habitat with its partners.