Summary report, 31 December 1994

1994 Year-end Update on Habitat II

As preparations for the Second United Nations Conference on HumanSettlements (Habitat II) are getting underway, the UN General Assemblyconcluded the year by adopting a resolution that gives additionalsupport to the preparatory process for Habitat II, including approval toconvene a third session of the Preparatory Committee early in 1996.

This year-end issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin will reviewrelevant activities that have taken place since the first session of thePreparatory Committee for Habitat II in April 1994, summarize the resultsof the General Assembly"s consideration of Habitat II, and highlightupcoming events. This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ispublished as part of a series of year-end issues intended to summarizethe current state of play in the various sustainable developmentconferences and negotiations reported on by the Bulletin in 1994.


The Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3-14 June 1996 " the 20thanniversary of the first Habitat Conference in Vancouver. Habitat IIreceived its impetus from the 1992 United Nations Conference onEnvironment and Development and General Assembly resolution 47/180.The Secretary-General of the Conference is Dr. Wally N"Dow.

The objectives for Habitat II are: (1) in the long term, to arrest thedeterioration of global human settlements conditions and ultimatelycreate the conditions for achieving improvements in the livingenvironment of all people on a sustainable basis, with special attentionto the needs and contributions of women and vulnerable social groupswhose quality of life and participation in development have beenhampered by exclusion and inequality, affecting the poor in general; and(2) to adopt a general statement of principles and commitments andformulate a related global plan of action capable of guiding national andinternational efforts through the first two decades of the next century.

The organizational session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) forHabitat II was held at UN Headquarters in New York from 3-5 March1993. Delegates elected the Bureau and took several basic decisionsregarding the organization and timing of the process. Members of theBureau include: the Chair, Martti Lujanen (Finland); Vice Chairs PamelaMboya (Kenya), Wijepala Dharmasiri Ailapperuma (Sri Lanka), and RufatN. Novruzov (Azerbaijan); and the Rapporteur, Marjorie Ulloa (Ecuador).Turkey, the host country, is an ex officio member of the Bureau.

The first substantive session of the PrepCom was held in Geneva from11-22 April 1994. Delegates agreed that the overriding objective of theConference should be to increase the world awareness of the problemsand potentials of human settlements as important inputs to socialprogress and economic growth and to commit the world"s leaders tomaking cities, towns and villages healthy, safe, just and sustainable.The PrepCom also took decisions on the organization of the Conferenceand financing, in addition to the following:

  • National Objectives: Each participating country should design, adopt and implement a national plan of action, which will address the issue of human settlements in both urban and rural areas, taking into consideration environmental issues, and which will involve the full participation and support of the public and private sectors, and of non-governmental and community-based organizations. Countries should also strengthen the capacity of institutions at all levels to monitor shelter conditions and urbanization processes using a minimum set of substantially uniform and consistent indicators.
  • International Objectives: The preparatory process should: present a "State of Human Settlements" report; produce a Statement of Principles and Commitments based on a new international consensus on policies and goals for shelter; produce a Global Plan of Action to mobilize international resources and create institutional arrangements to assist countries to implement and monitor the goals of sustainable human settlements and shelter for all and to protect the environment against unwarranted and undesirable impacts of urbanization; and make available the broadest range of information concerning shelter strategies, technologies, resources, experience, expertise and sources of support.
  • Participation: Governments of each participating State should establish national committees with broad participation from all levels of government, civic leaders, the academic and scientific community, grassroots leaders, non-governmental and community-based organizations, and the private sector. These committees should formulate, adopt and implement a work programme that includes the production of a national report, discussion on priority issues, organize local and country consultations and forums, and prepare and present audio-visual documentaries of examples of best practice in human settlement development.
  • Draft Statement of Principles and Commitments: The Statement should reaffirm and be framed within the general goals of the UN, contain a reference to the Principles adopted by Habitat I as well as reference to the Rio Declaration; and introduce the rationale for the new principles and commitments that will guide national and international action on human settlements for the next 20 years.
  • Draft Global Plan of Action: The Global Plan of Action should be structured around the two main themes of the Conference: adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world. The following multi-sectoral issues should be considered: settlements management; poverty reduction; environmental management; and disaster mitigation, relief and reconstruction. Cross-sectoral issues that should be considered include: women, the urban economy and employment; social and economic dimensions of urbanization and shelter development; education and capacity building; and equity and vulnerable social groups.


The Second Committee of the UN General Assembly addressed Habitat IIfrom 8 - 16 November 1994, within a cluster of issues under AgendaItem 88. The cluster included: trade and development; food andagriculture development; commodities; cultural development; integrationof economies in transition into the world economy; industrial developmentcooperation; Habitat II; international cooperation for the eradication ofpoverty in developing countries; and the UN initiative on opportunityand participation. The broad scope of this cluster prevented delegatesfrom doing justice to each sub-item. As a result, some delegates focusedtheir statements on one or two sub-items and others tried to touch onall nine. The following is a summary of those interventions thataddressed Habitat II (Agenda Item 88(g)).

Dr. Wally N"Dow, Secretary-General of Habitat II addressed the SecondCommittee on 2 November 1994. He said that when the century began,only one in 10 people lived in cities; when it ends, half of the world"spopulation will be urban dwellers. Today the vast bulk of urbanpopulation growth is occurring in developing countries and all the signsare that it will continue. By the year 2020, 85% of the people in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean region will live in cites, as will 54% in Africaand 56% in Asia. Within this context, he highlighted the objectives ofHabitat II and placed the conference within the framework of the seriesof UN Conferences that began in Rio and will culminate in Istanbul.Since the conclusion of the first session of the PrepCom, more than 50countries have already established, or are in the process ofestablishing, national preparatory committees for the Conference and arelaying out their two-year work programmes. The Habitat II Secretariathas greatly expanded its information and outreach campaign. TheSecretariat has also been preparing and disseminating guidelines for thepreparatory process as well as preparing the documentation for thesecond substantive session of the Preparatory Committee. He called ondelegates to endorse the PrepCom"s recommendation to hold a thirdsession early in 1996. He also called on donor governments and others ina position to do so to rally to the support of Habitat II and extend bothfinancial and other assistance needed to make the Conference a success.

ALGERIA: On behalf of the G-77 and China, Algeria said that asthe UN Conference on Human Settlements approaches, it is worrying tosee that the issue of the direction of the Habitat Center is not yetsettled and that Resolution 48/176, calling on the Secretary-General tosee to it that the direction of this unit is distinct from the UNEPstructure, has not been implemented. The G-77 fears that the delays inre-establishing the status and mandate of the Nairobi Center may haverepercussions on Habitat II as well as the implementation of the WorldHousing Strategy for the year 2000. The importance of the issues thatwill be addressed at Habitat II, therefore, calls for a rapid decision inaccordance with Resolution 48/176, as soon as possible, in this importantsphere of international cooperation.

GERMANY: On behalf of the EU, Germany said that one basicelement of the eradication of poverty is the improvement of humansettlements. The EU, therefore, attaches great importance to the goals ofthe Habitat II Conference. It will address one of the most pressingissues for the future of our planet: how the world"s fast growing citiesand settlements will affect the chances for social and environmentalstability in the world of the twenty-first century. The EU expectsHabitat II to further advance the objectives of Agenda 21 for humansettlements, as expressed by the CSD in its decision on this issue. Thepreparatory process for Habitat II is already well under way. The EUsupports the proposal to hold a third session of the PrepCom early in1996, under the condition that it will be of short duration and can bemade possible within existing resources.

BRAZIL: On behalf of the Rio Group, Brazil said that Habitat II isa unique opportunity to complete the social agenda of the UN byaddressing the problems of cities and rural settlements in acomprehensive manner. However, the current resources available for thepreparatory process are insufficient for the activities that are necessaryand for the participation of developing countries in the preparatoryprocess. Urgent mobilization of resources is needed to raise thecontributions that will ensure an effective preparatory process at theinternational and national levels.

CHINA: The delegate said that shelter is fundamental to humansurvival and increasing urbanization is leading to housing shortages,and infrastructural and environmental problems. For Habitat II to be asuccess, the PrepCom must define the Conference"s objectives and keyissues. The Conference should focus on the themes of housing for alland urbanization. While meeting housing demands is the role ofgovernments, enhanced cooperation, communication, financial resourcesand technology is needed.

TURKEY: Amb. Inal Batu stressed that human settlement problemscan no longer be considered and discussed in isolation as sectoralissues. To promote the Habitat II Conference as a summit will add morepolitical commitment, more media coverage and, thus, more publicawareness to these important issues. Habitat II should be theculminating summit in the series of recent UN global meetings. Turkeycalls on participation at the Conference to be at the highest possiblelevel. Turkey also supports the need for a third substantive session ofthe PrepCom to be held in early 1996 in New York. He called on the UNSecretary-General to establish a special task force to be composed ofthe heads of the Secretariats of all relevant parts of the UN system.Amb. Batu also noted that Turkey officially launched its preparations forthe Conference in August. The site of the Conference and the Trade Fairhave been identified and a national coordination mechanism has beenestablished. The Turkish government has pledged US$200,000 foractivities in support of Habitat II.

NEPAL: Dr. Suresh Chandra Chalise said that his delegationagrees with the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on HumanSettlements that the problem of the urban poor, especially women, mustbe met head on. The obvious link among population, development andenvironment calls for a concerted approach to both urban and ruraldevelopment.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The delegate commented on the problemscaused by rapid urbanization, which has led to deterioration ofeconomic, social and environmental conditions. The increasing number ofrefugees and displaced people requires clear national, regional andinternational policies. The Second Arab Preparatory Meeting for HabitatII was held in Abu Dhabi from 9-12 October 1994. Dubai will host anInternational Conference for Human Settlements from 2-5 April 1995. Thetheme of this conference is the best ways to improve living conditions.The discussions at this Conference will contribute to Habitat II.

UGANDA: Dr. E.T.S. Adriko, the Minister of Lands and Housing,said that Uganda has participated actively in the preparatory processleading to Habitat II at two levels. At the regional level, Uganda waselected Chair of the Group of African Ministers Responsible for HumanSettlements at a meeting in Nairobi on 30 March 1994. The ministersstressed that: human settlement policies and programmes in Africashould address the needs of both urban and rural areas; the issues ofland, shelter and infrastructure are of paramount importance andprogrammes should be formulated to ensure accessibility by the majorityof the population, especially the poor, women and displaced persons; thenecessity of developing supportive appropriate institutions for thesustenance of human settlements; and the need for the internationalcommunity to support the preparatory process for Habitat II. At thenational level, Uganda has established a National Committee on HumanSettlements and has already submitted a National Action Plan to theSecretariat. Uganda supports convening a third PrepCom in early 1996to maintain the momentum of the preparatory process. He urged thatadequate resources must be made available from the general fund of theUN to strengthen the Secretariat and enhance its effectiveness inlaunching a full-scale preparatory process to ensure the success of theConference.

JAPAN: The representative noted that while Japan has beensatisfied with the results that international conferences have achieved,it is also a fact that almost every one of these conferences has alsotaken up the subject of development. While it is important to considerways of promoting development, to do so at every major internationalgathering is a wasteful duplication of effort and reduces the time andenergy that can be devoted to the issues such conferences areconvened to address. He expressed the hope that Habitat II willconcentrate on achieving its original goals and avoid any unnecessaryenlargement of the scope of its deliberations. Habitat II will notaccomplish as much as it should it if ignores other important UNconferences, especially ICPD. He announced that the "World CityExposition Tokyo "96," will be held from 24 March to 13 October 1995and, as part of the Exposition, a series of meetings " World CityConference Tokyo "96 " will be convened with the support of the UN.

KENYA: Amb. Pamela Mboya noted that the living conditions of asignificant and growing proportion of humanity are deplorable andmigration is making things worse. Kenya hopes that Habitat II willaddress: adequate provision of shelter, infrastructure and services; theresulting negative environmental impacts on natural resources; andproper management of cities and the rural-urban linkages. At thenational level, Kenya has established a National Steering Committee onHabitat II, which is consulting with relevant actors through workshopswith a view to designing an effective national action plan. Kenyasupports convening a third session of the PrepCom in early 1996 toavoid a loss of momentum. She urged that adequate resources be madeavailable from the regular budget of the UN to strengthen and enhancethe effectiveness of the Secretariat. She also called on developedcountries and others in a position to do so to contribute to the twofunds to enable developing countries to participate fully in theConference and its preparatory process.

SRI LANKA: The representative noted that Habitat II mustaddress the problems of overcrowded urban centers, slums and shantytowns, as well as the problem of urban migration. If utilities and basicservices are made available in rural areas, the flow of urban migrationcan be reduced. Sri Lanka supports the proposal to hold a third sessionof the PrepCom and stressed the importance of providing adequatefinancing for the preparatory work.

THAILAND: Amb. Nitya Pibulsonggram supported the Secretary-General"s view that the global plan of action of Habitat II shouldincorporate tangible means of enhancing implementation of decisions andrecommendations of preceding conferences. He urged governments,intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to take part fullyin the preparatory process. Thailand"s national housing strategy placesspecial emphasis on housing for the urban poor in all parts of thecountry, infrastructure services and land use management.

MALTA: Joanna Darmanin noted that by the year 2000, half ofhumanity is expected to be living and working in towns and cities,which are seriously affected by overcrowding, environmentaldegradation, social disruption, under-employment, and poor housing,infrastructure and services. Habitat II will provide an excellentopportunity to address existing and potential issues and problemsrelated to the quality of life in cities and towns.

SENEGAL: The representative reported on the results of ameeting of African ministers that was held in Dakar from 31 October - 2November 1994. The Dakar Declaration restates priority for humansettlements and notes that Habitat II will have to find solutions toproblems of cities, including health, education, sanitation, infrastructure,crime, drugs, homelessness and poverty. The African ministers have setup national committees and a bilateral partnership forum for informationsharing and capacity building. Habitat II needs to integraterecommendations from the other global conferences that precede it.Habitat II should be the "City Summit" and should propose a globalprogramme of action. The Conference must have as high and as broad alevel of participation as possible. He called on UN agencies and funds tosupport the special funds established for the Secretariat and supportedconvening a third session of the PrepCom in early 1996.

UNITED STATES: The representative said that the US attacheshigh priority to a successful Habitat II conference. Next month the USwill name a National Preparatory Committee comprised of 25 prominentrepresentatives of housing and community development organizations.The US Agency for International Development has plans to assistcountries in their national preparations for Habitat II " particularly thepreparation of national reports based on shelter and urban sector policyindicators. The US will contribute US$700,000 towards the preparatoryprocess.

ECUADOR: The representative supported the Secretary-General"sinitiative to make Habitat II a summit level conference. The secondsession of the PrepCom in Nairobi in April must focus on commitmentsand principles, including the principle that adequate, safe andsustainable housing is a basic human need. Each member State shouldset up representative national committees, including members from allsectors, to participate in the preparations for Habitat II. The Conferenceshould develop innovative solutions to housing problems. She supportedthe convening of a third session of the PrepCom in New York and calledon appropriate financial and technical resources to facilitate progress.She urged that sufficient resources from the UN regular budget beprovided to the Secretariat and asked the Secretary- General toestablish a group of experts within the UN to address and advise thePrepCom on these issues.

AUSTRIA: The representative supported Habitat II and noted thatAustria is setting up a national preparatory committee.

NIGERIA: The representative supported the work of the Centrefor Human Settlements and Habitat II. He said that Nigeria hasestablished a federal housing authority and thanked Shelter Afrique forproviding assistance. He appealed to the international community toaddress the deteriorating condition of shelter and expressed hope thatthe Conference will give concrete expression to its objectives.

AFGHANISTAN: The representative said that Habitat II must dealwith the reconstruction of cities destroyed by war. Afghanistan hopesthat the Conference will find consensus on the ways and means ofdealing with this tragic problem.

ZAMBIA: The representative commended the work done thus farby the PrepCom for Habitat II and hoped that sufficient funding will befound for the preparatory process and the Conference.

MALAYSIA: The representative said that Habitat II should focuson addressing the right to decent shelter and the growing problem ofhomelessness. As reflected in the outcome of the first PrepCom, nationalgovernments and the international community have a major role inaddressing the problems of adequate and sustainable housing for all. Atthe national level, there is a need for a comprehensive and pragmaticnational action plan. At the international level there is a need for aglobal action plan to mobilize resources, create internationalarrangements for assistance and monitor its progress.

MYANMAR: Amb. U Hla Maung welcomed Habitat II, which providesa unique opportunity to complete the social agenda of the UN byaddressing the problems of cities and rural settlements in acomprehensive manner. The Conference should integrate all aspects thataffect the living and working conditions of people, such as shelter,transportation, sanitation, health and education.

PERU: The representative said that Habitat II should synthesizethe results of the other UN-sponsored global conferences. He supportedthe call for a third meeting of the PrepCom in New York in early 1996.It is encouraging that 55 countries have established national committees,with the participation of NGOs, to prepare national action programmesand information programmes. There should be workshops on severalcrucial themes including: transportation and communications; urbanemployment; and city planning. Peru is also concerned about thebudgetary problems faced by Habitat II. The UN should give moreeffective support to the Conference. In preparation for Habitat II,governments must: develop a global strategy for the next century;examine the role of the private sector; support investment; addresseconomic policies and development strategies for urban and ruralsettlements; and elaborate and implement sustainable urban strategies.

SUDAN: The representative noted the massive rural-urbanmigration in the Sudan that threatens the social structure of the State.He said there is a need for policies to prevent rural exodus and improvethe environmental situation.


A draft resolution on the "United Nations Conference on HumanSettlements (Habitat II)" (A/C.2/49/L.27) was first tabled by the co-sponsors, Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, and Turkey. Afterinformal consultations by members of the Second Committee, the ViceChair, Raiko Raichev (Bulgaria) submitted a new draft resolution(A/C.2/49/L.61). This resolution was adopted, as orally amended, by theCommittee on Friday, 9 December 1994. The resolution is expected to beadopted by the General Assembly Plenary just before Christmas.

The operative part of the resolution, as contained in L.61, takes note ofthe reports of the PrepCom on its organizational session and firstsubstantive session and endorses the decisions contained therein. Theresolution approves the PrepCom"s recommendation that a thirdsubstantive session of the PrepCom be held at UN Headquarters early in1996 to complete the preparatory work for the Conference. Theresolution also:

  • welcomes the recommendations made by the PrepCom on the preparations at the country, regional and global levels, on the draft statement of principles and commitments, and on the draft global plan of action;
  • takes note with interest the call by the UN Secretary- General to give the Conference the dimensions of a "city summit," and reaffirms its decision that the Conference should be held at the highest possible level of participation;
  • recommends that the global plan of action of Habitat II take into account the outcome of all relevant UN global conferences;
  • requests that all relevant organs, organizations, agencies and programmes intensify their efforts and cooperate closely in preparation for the Conference;
  • recommends that sustainable human settlements be given appropriate attention within the agenda for development;
  • expresses appreciation to those States and organizations that have made or pledged financial or other contributions in support of the Conference and renews its appeal to all Governments and UN organizations, agencies and programmes to contribute to the voluntary fund;
  • requests that the work of the PrepCom and the Habitat II Secretariat should continue to be funded within existing UN budgetary resources to ensure that the Conference will be treated adequately with respect to other global international UN conferences; and
  • encourages relevant interested NGOs to participate in and contribute to the Conference and its preparatory process and to contribute to increasing world awareness of the problems and potential of human settlements.


PREPCOM II: The second session of the Preparatory Committee forHabitat II will be held in Nairobi from 24 April - 5 May 1995. Theprovisional agenda includes: preparations for the Conference (activitiesof the Secretariat; preparations at the national, regional and globallevels; activities of intergovernmental bodies, NGOs, the private sectorand other agencies; and special events, including a world fair);statement of principles and commitments and global plan of action; stateof human settlements report and major reviews; and arrangements forthe third substantive session of the Preparatory Committee.

TECHNICAL WORKSHOPS: The Secretariat will convene technicalworkshops in June/July 1995 to deal with the following cross-sectoralissues: poverty alleviation; environment management; governance; shelterprovision and tenure; disaster prevention and mitigation; transport;communication; and new urban patterns. Background papers will bedeveloped and enriched by case studies. The results of the workshopswill form the basis for position papers to be tabled at roundtables inIstanbul focusing on strategies for healthier, safer, more equitable andsustainable human settlements.

REGIONAL MEETINGS: The Secretariat will convene five regionalmeetings in August/September 1995 to provide an opportunity for anexchange of experiences on national preparatory processes and to betterfocus the final drafts of national reports in each region.

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