United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Norway

HUMAN SETTLEMENTS - STATEMENT BY NORWAY
Mr Chair.
I will start with commending the Secretary General?s report on human settlements. The issues
that I will elaborate upon are all reflected in his report.
Human settlements provide a concrete context for action. Cities, in particular, being catalysts
of political opinion, innovation, cultural crossroads and market places are well suited to be the
triggers of development. According to an old German saying: breathing the air of the city can
make people free. Unless of course they die in of pollution in the meantime. This is what we
have to avoid.
Almost all the population increase over the last twenty years has taken place in urban areas
(90%). If radical changes are not made in current urban policies, this rate will continue. By
2030 half the population of the developing world will be slum dwellers.
We share the Secretary General?s recognition that it is the urban poor that are the most
important agents for social and economic change. The urban poor are however not an
homogenous group. Norway particularly sees women and young people as the agents with the
greatest potential for change. Youth is no longer the only the future, it is also, due to ongoing
demographic changes, the present . Three billion people of today ? almost half the world?s
population, are below the age of 24.
Norway will, having women and youth in mind, advocate the neede to shift gear from a needs
based approach to a rights based approach. A prerequisite for a rights based approach is,
however, that people know their rights. Human rights education must be given higher priority,
both within formal as well as informal education, both in developing as well as developed
countries.
A rights based approach implies that something is done with the causes of poverty and
underdevelopment. It implies that the main change agents are identified, empowered, given
the opportunity to organise, mobilise and advocate their grievances in relation to local,
national and international powerholders. Community led initiatives are promising: how to
scale up in particular with local governments generally however remains a challenge.
One of the staggering facts about poverty, which is not adressed explicitly among the MDGs,
is that the vast majority of the world?s poor live their daily lives outside the rule of law, in
what often is referred to as the informal or extralegal sector. Excluded from the benefits of a
legal order. The result is lower growth, less revenues and less room for investing in health,
education and infrastructure, and sometimes more instability and armed conflict. Against this
background, the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom with an increasing number of
developing countries, will in the near future launch an initiative to elaborate how the poor can
be legally empowered. The purpose is to promote poverty reduction through inproved asset
security, formalisation of property rights and the rule of law. Without ownership there will be
no sustainability and no expansion of real choices.
Sectot reforms need to be speeded up and the poorest countries cannot wait for another five or
ten years for the reforms to start yielding results. Investments and reforms need to be
implemented in paralell.
An effective global monitoring mechanism needs to be put in place so that 1) the urban poor
are put on the map in national and international development plans and 2) to allow accurate
tracking of progress towards acieving these targets.
Decentralisation and building capacity in local authorities, pro poor ur ban planning and
development are also important factors to halt the urbanisation of poverty.
To conclude, Norway wouldlike to applaud the positive developments that during the last
couple of years have taken place in UN-HABITAT under the able leadership of the Executive
Director Ms. Anna Tibajuka. We look forward to discuss Habitat issues more extensively
during the forthcoming Governing Council meeting in Nairobi early April, also in order to
provide further input to CSD 13 and the MDG meeting in New Yor k in September.
Mr. Chair, it has been a pleasure to adress this small but exclusive assembly under your able
leadership. Thank you.
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