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Commission expected to launch HABITAT as the United Nations city agency

30 Apr 1999 - The seventeenth session of the Commission on Human Settlements is expected to launch the United Nations Centre on Human Settlements (Habitat) as the UN City Agency. Klaus Toepfer, the Acting Executive Director of Habitat, said that this session of the Commission, scheduled to take place from 5 to 14 May 1999, was therefore significant in that it represented a new beginning for the organisation.

The proposed launching of Habitat as the City Agency is part of a revitalisation proposal undertaken by the Acting Executive Director to make Habitat an effective UN agency capable of responding to the challenges or urbanisation in the next millennium.

"With already one half of humanity living in cities, one of the principal challenges facing the international community is how to achieve sustainable development in urban areas", said Toepfer. "It is, therefore, of the utmost urgency for the Commission and the Centre to address urban problems such as urban poverty, environmental degradation, crumbling infrastructure, crime and unemployment."

The Commission on Human Settlements, Habitat's governing body, approves the Centre's overall policy, priority and action plan. It meets every two years and comprises 58 countries, each elected for a four year term. This session is expected to bring in over 600 delegates representing Governments, local authorities, non-governmental organisation and other partner groups from all regions of the world.

Mr. Toepfer emphasised the importance of including partners such as local authorities in the work of the Commission and of the Centre, adding that such a partnership would be fundamental to the success of United Nations efforts to support local sustainable development and to facilitate the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

For more information, please contact:
Christina Engfeldt, Chief
Information & External Relations
UNCHS (Habitat)
P.O. Box 30030
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254 2 623067
Fax: 254 2 624060

Sharad Shankardass
Ag. Head Media Relations & Film Video Unit
UNCHS, Habitat
Box 30030
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-623153
Fax: 254-2-624060

Friday 30 Apr 1999
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