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ACP, EC, HABITAT Conference Discusses Sustainable Urbanization

UN-HABITAT6 September 2013: The Second International Tripartite Conference on 'Sustainable Urbanization as Response to Urban Poverty Eradication' assessed progress on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 on improving the lives of slumdwellers, and discussed including sustainable urbanization in the post-2015 development agenda. The conference also enabled the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) to consider common positions for the third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

The ACP Secretariat, the European Commission (EC) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the tripartite partners, hosted the conference with the Government of Rwanda, from 3-6 September, in Kigali. ACP States identified priorities for development cooperation, poverty reduction and sustainable urbanization, and strategized how to voice their priorities for the future urban agenda in the post-2015 and Habitat III agendas.

Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, highlighted three emerging challenges driving urbanization trends: demographic challenges; financing needs; and the need to create jobs. He said these trends are driven by lack of provision of infrastructure services and should be included in urban planning. Aisa Kacyira, UN-HABITAT Deputy Executive Director, called for cross-sectoral approaches that collectively address urbanization challenges. She described cities as “human and social constructs” that can be shaped to prevent slum formation and improve already formed slums.

The Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), which aims to contribute to MDG 7, is a key initiative of the tripartite collaboration. Although the world achieved the Goal's target to improve the lives of 100 million slumdwellers by 2020, the overall number of slum dwellers continues to increase. Noting this trend, Michelle Raymond, ACP Assistant Secretary-General, urged partners to agree on collective goals and to further strengthen PSUP. Thirty-four ACP countries participate in PSUP and are revising their national and city strategies to design participatory policies that will empower slumdwellers to improve their communities.

The conference also addressed, inter alia: citizenship for slum dwellers; decentralization of basic services; e-participation in urban planning; health facilities; information and communications technology (ICT) policies; national targets on urbanization; participatory urban planning; and women's empowerment. [UN-HABITAT Press Release, 4 September] [UN-HABITAT Press Release, 6 September] [UN-HABITAT Press Release, 10 September] [Conference Background Document]