Countries call for the tackling of the unfinished business on slums at historic SDG meetingNew York, 16 October 2015-- A high level side event titled "One billion slum dwellers: Tackling the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goal on water, sanitation and slums" took place last month at the UN Headquarters during the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held in New York.

The side event was held with a call on governments to address the slum challenge that remains one of the critical factors for the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030. The meeting was sponsored by Governments of Cameroon and Rwanda and organized by the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), an initiative of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Secretariat that is funded by the European Commission and implemented by UN-Habitat.

In attendance were ministers, ambassadors and mayors representing various countries that are actively involved in slum upgrading interventions. Countries call for the tackling of the unfinished business on slums at historic SDG meeting_1The speakers underscored the importance of fully committing to the realization of the SDGs. “We need to look at significant policies that enable the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development to be realized in very concrete and real ways and promote inclusiveness for citizen participation,’’ stated Dr. Patrick Ignatius Gomes, ACP Secretary General.

He also reinforced the value of political anchorage needed at country level to realize the SDGs.  Similar sentiments were echoed by the DEVCO Deputy Director General at the European Union, Mr. Klaus Rudischauser, who opined that this particular event was timely having come against the backdrop of the historic summit for the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the urban SDG 11.

“This will place the slum challenge among the priorities for the New Urban Agenda to be discussed at the Habitat III Conference in 2016,” he pointed out. “We at the EU look forward to participating in Habitat III, bringing our own input and engaging in further discussions on how to tackle the slum challenge.  PSUP has to be part of the overall strategy of tackling slums and we will consider increasing even more our financial support because it is a Programme that is helping cities to deal with slums thus upgrading their capacity to deal with urbanization’’, he concluded .

On his part, the Executive Director of UN Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos said: We need to prioritize the use of resources created by urbanization, and direct them to activities which promote sustainable urbanization. There is also need to develop the capacity of local authorities to address rapid urbanization."

“The Kigali declaration on sustainable urbanization for poverty eradication was a helpful tool that among others encouraged countries to engage and direct their policies towards a more planned and managed urbanization as a driver for sustainable development”, noted Mr. James Musoni, Rwanda Minister for Infrastructure. He also stressed that the focus of the programme should not only be on slum upgrading but on preventive measures through better and well-coordinated urban planning and inclusive growth programmes.

Participants who expressed their views noted that in spite of great progress in improving slums and preventing their formation the absolute number of slum dwellers continues to grow, and were united in prioritizing the slum challenge  as a critical factor contributing to the persistence of urban poverty in the world.

The meeting was a platform to marshal political will to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and more specifically Target 11.1: By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums. In a show of appreciation for the achievements that PSUP has gained so far and the dedication that the ACP countries have for the progamme, the ACP and EC committed to support the Programme in the SDG implementation process.

“Through the implementation of PSUP in Kenya, we have realized the importance of participatory frameworks in enhancing ownership, building capacity and enhancing sustainability,” remarked the Kenya minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Mr. Fred Matiangi. The mayor or Dakar, Senegal, Mr. Khalifa Sall, who spoke on behalf of local authorities, proposed the formation of a network between the local municipalities of Africa, the ACP secretariat and UN-Habitat , and States so that the broadest possible forum can be created to share various points of view and opinions through a global process. View the full statement in French here.

“UN and inter-governmental organizations need to make space for local authorities because that is the level at which things are happening”, he remarked. “PSUP through its worldwide leadership has allowed Cameroon to enter into political dialogues, initiate change as well as establish political commitments such as the adoption of the issue of slums into the national development strategy of the urban sub sector,” expressed the Minister for Housing and Urban Development for Housing in Cameroon, Mr. Jean Claude Mbwentchou.

 For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals on 'Slums', click here.