‘New Framework’ Needed To Reduce Slum Expansion, New UN-HABITAT Head Says In Speech Outlining Priorities

Joan Clos, the newly elected executive director of the U.N. Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT), on Tuesday urged the international community to focus on improving the lives of slum dwellers worldwide and take steps to reduce the expansion of slum areas, Xinhua/People’s Daily Online reports.

“The inconvenient truth is that the slum phenomenon is still growing too fast,” he said during a session of the 2nd Committee of the U.N. General Assembly (11/4).

“Between 2000 and 2010, the lives of 230 million slum dwellers were improved. However, this achievement was not uniformly distributed across regions,” Clos said, according to a transcript of his speech.

“In fact, the Millennium Development Goals [MDG] target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 has already been exceeded by an extra 100 million,” he pointed out. But with the continuing growth of urban slums, which are expected to grow by 60 million people in the next decade, Clos said, “A new framework is needed for these efforts, since the Millennium Development Goals target on slums has already been attained,” (11/2).

During his address, “Clos summarised the year’s achievements and assured the assembled delegates that UN-HABITAT would continue to prioritise the core activities of its mandate – promoting sustainable urbanization; slum prevention and upgrading through effective land and housing policies. Other priorities include improving access to drinking water and sanitation, promoting effective and sustainable financing of cities, and mainstreaming gender and promoting partnerships,” a UN-HABITAT press release states.

“If UN-HABITAT is to continue to be internationally relevant, it also has to respond to emerging urban challenges,” Clos said before outlining his four priorities in that area (11/2).

Clos, who started in his new position on October 16, also highlighted some of the issues he hopes to focus on in his new position, the U.N. News Centre writes. He “told reporters in New York that although cities hosted industries and businesses that create much of the world’s wealth, they were not always able to raise the resources required to deal with the problems associated with expanding population,” the news service notes.

“We need to understand better the economic role of urbanization,” said Clos, a former mayor of the Spanish city of Barcelona. “We need to produce some changes and improvements in our organization in order to be more focused and more efficient inside the overall objective of the United Nations of delivering-as-one and being more efficient in general,” he said (11/3).

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