Juba 16 October 2014—The Second South Sudan Urbanisation Conference kicked off in Juba on Wednesday with speakers placing greater emphasis on better land governance practice in the urban areas.

Officially opening the meeting, the Speaker of the Council of Ministers Joseph Bul Chan set the mood when he rooted for an improved land governance system in South Sudan. “It is imperative that we have good land governance structures in our country. Land is at the core of development aspirations and there must be good system to utilise it.

“There is an urgent need to develop strategies to build inclusive cities with sustainable environment. We must also develop a good land governance system,” he said.

A joint initiative of the Government of South Sudan and supported by UN-Habitat and the European Union, the ‘Effective Urbanisation and Good Land Governance for Sustainable Economic Growth’ conference will run until Saturday.

It has brought together national government officials, Ministers for Planning and Infrastructure and top ministry officials from all the 10 states of South Sudan as well as development partners, academia and other stakeholders.

The speaker said that as a country, South Sudan had experienced more than its fair share of floods, drought and war, factors he said compounded urbanisation.

In her address, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Physical Planning Catherine Juan Benaiah said the world in general and Africa in particular was experiencing unprecedented urbanisation, a trend she said called for better planning.

“The population of South Sudan is projected to reach 25 million by 2050 and this will put a strain on our country,” she said.

In his presentation, the European Union ambassador, Stefano di Leo said that being one of the most important drivers of any nation’s development, land, was a sensitive matter whose use must be well planned.

Alluding to the skirmishes seen in the country late last year and early this year, the ambassador called for a faster solution to the issues that gave rise to the tragic events.

“We would like to see an end to this especially through a negotiated peace process. Land is also an important resource in the whole process of peace,” he said adding that good land governance was the bedrock of such a process.

Speaking on behalf of UN-Habitat, Dragan Tatic affirmed the agency’s commitment to helping South Sudan in addressing urbanisation issues.

Jos Maseland from UN-Habitat took the participants through the ‘State of African Cities Report 2014’ and gave the rationale behind re-conceptualisation of approaches to African urban development.

“Africa has been copying the 1950-1970s urbanisation concepts of the North, but global conditions have dramatically changed,” he said.