Note on Human Settlements before CSD 13



We insist on keeping CSD 13 fundamentally dedicated to the integrated implementation of all international targets related to human settlements.

After obstacles have been discussed at CSD 12 the challenge of CSD 13 now is the translation of the COMPLETE set of international targets into concrete and measurable action at international, national and sub-national levels. Complete set means that all targets set out in Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millenium Goals related to human settlements (including water and sanitation) have to be put on the agenda, and not only a selection.

The General Secretaries report on human settlements at CSD 12 offers a colourful collection of interesting local practices and experiences. But is neither covering all relevant targets nor mirroring the debates at CSD 13 in a fully acceptable way. Many statements made by Major Groups, governments and UN agencies are nit covered by the text. It is significant that the report excludes delicate statements on the need for rights driven approaches, on experiences with badly balanced privatisations or on the need to overcome unsustainable patterns of consumption. It keeps quiet on cross cutting issues and challenges like economical globalisation, growing gaps between rich and poor, does not mention the local development goals of Agenda 21 or the JpoI commitments on corporate accountability. It does not enough focus on management of sustainable globalisation and hardly offers options to proceed from stoke taking to international commitments. We have to consider similar deficits at the Chairs report on the CSD 13 IPM.

This situation of course is not the result of bad will of the responsible bodies, but reflects the given balance of forces. While the EU for instance try to address policy options in the field of sustainable consumption, supports the concept sustainable urbanization and like to achieve some concrete results they keep totally quit regarding globalisation, bad aspects of privatisation or corporate accountability. The US business as usual – works against any binding results at all. The G 77 are calling for better financial support and resist obligations for instance on human rights. Only a few countries still seem to feel committed on the full vision of Rio. Being in a defensive position NGOs repeat traditional rituals calling for human rights or gender mainstreaming while with the exception of water issues they are hardly able to address new challenges and possible solutions.


Even if you focus on target 11 you must address all obstacles and prioritise action not only at some local levels but towards the global frames of development.

Because of the situation described above the prominent role of MDG 7 targets seem to offer a solution for focussing the debate on most urgent challenges. Indeed, this focus opens chances to address social issues and to use the MDG orientation as a driving force towards concrete results. But at the same time this orientation on seemingly “pro poor strategies” risks to loose any focus on the context of poverty growth and slum explosion, mainly: worldwide growing social gaps, rapid and not managed urbanization, missing capacities to empower rights-focussed strategies, and global commercialisation of public goods, services, capacities and natural resources including land and water.

We understand MDG 7 target 11c improvement of the living conditions of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020 s as one of the milestones for measuring and monitoring progress. CSD 13 must put this target in practical relations to other priorities of sustainable development and must renegotiate the relevance the orientation of improvement for 100 million slum dwellers while an exploding number of slum dwellers soon 1 billion – are missing very basics for their life.

Prior challenges to meet MDG 7 target 11 at local, national and global level are: 1) Redistribute wealth for the overcome of poverty 2) Enable all duty holders to manage spatial processes in an integrated, social, participatory and sustainable way 3) Empower the social roots of human settlements to play a leading role in rights driven sustainable development.


CSD 13 must lead to some real international commitments regarding solutions and follow ups at international and national levels. As far as international instruments for supporting target driven solutions are already existing they should be strengthened in a systematic way. As far as they do not exist, new solutions must be brought up.

There seems to be a broad consensus within governments that given goals should not be renegotiated. This significantly is used as an argument not to deal with human rights or consequences on state duties . G 77 and China oppose any “renegotiation” of goals, arguing that they are already overburdened. While the US again are trying to resist any international commitments, G 77 are calling for prioritised action regarding support for poorest countries and the EU is orientating on strengthening of existing instruments.

In this situation even little progress is a victory, if it opens future options for improvements.

In particular the following steps should be made possible:

The final report should include an emphasis on rights-based approach. This might become possible if the orientation is not reduced to strict bindings on national legislations (which seems not achievable), but puts rights-based approach into a global process of identifying duty-holders and empowering roots. Following a statement by Norway it is necessary to shift gear from a needs based approach to a rights based approach. 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. (Norway) Language, institutional decisions and commitments in the final statement on this bases should open up space for continuous debate and negotiations at international levels. 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 improved asset security, formalisation of property rights and the rule of law. Without ownership there will be no sustainability and no expansion of real choices. (Norway)

Because human settlements is the overarching theme under which issues such as water, sanitation, transport and other services belong (Finland) the capacities and mandate of UN habitat to coordinate international activities, monitoring and campaigns should strengthened. UN-Habitat should be provided with adequate and predictable resources with emphasis on non-earmarked resources. (African ministers) FINLAND: With regard to monitoring we would like to state on the behalf of the EU that for human settlements, the leading role of UN Habitat needs to be strengthened and further recognised.

Institutional consequences must be made based on the fact that sustainability-orientated management of urbanization-processes in its various forms (all types of human settlements and all types of changes in spatial development) is a basic challenge in the field of human settlements. A fast improvement of coordinated target-driven action at local, regional, national and international levels is needed in order to meet this challenge and to overcome its obstacles. UN Habitat must have the mandate and capacities to coordinate needed giudelines, negotiations which must lead to multilateral decisions.

Secure tenure is essential to the empowerment of slum dwellers based on the needs of the poor. This should include a range of options that are not limited to formal titles. In this regard, there is a need to support the Slum Upgrading Facility of the UN-HABITAT. It is also imperative to provide UN-Habitat with adequate and predictable resources with emphasis on non-earmarked resources to enable the Programmo discharge its mandate. (African Group)

The security of tenure campaign of UN Habitat should be turned into a well based programme having the mandate to develop guidelines for minimum standards.

CSD 13 should lead to commitments regarding education. 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. (Norway)

Linkages to disaster reduction, prevention and disaster preparedness should be expressed cleary.

Striving for more sustainable patterns of consumption AND production in human settlements is not a secondary challenge. The reduction of the ecological footprints of consumers/inhabitants living in settlements of the industrialized world as well as the ecological footprints of wealthy inhabitants living in the poorer parts of the world requires concentrated action. The final text should point this out and commit on processes which link human settlements with consumption patterns in near future.

Supported by commitments and improved international coordination countries should launch National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS) and/or Poverty Reduction Strategies that integrate economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development and must provide the basis for the implementation of the whole WSSD agenda in accordance with each country’s national priorities. (see EU)

Within Millennium Project Report MDG-based poverty reduction strategies should focus on issues that need more attention, such as (maternal and child) health, gender equality, water and sanitation and environmental sustainability. (EU)

CSD 13 should lead to a common view, that within development aid human settlements require more attention. ODA in general should focus on strengthening of local public and social capacities and infrastructures. Debt relief should free up financial resources for human settlements improvement including water and sanitation.

Within a general strengthening of support for urban development priorities urban development in Africa needs extra attention, requiring increased global cooperation through the provision of official development assistance

Develop an institutional follow-up on sanitation issues within the United Nations system. (African ministers)

CSD 13 should put emphasis on social control of tenure, land use, services and housing (in its various forms) and NOT commit countries to market solutions (even not in hidden forms). The G-77 and China cannot agree that basic housing is not a public good. The negative consequences of slum dwelling affect all of society. The Group of 77 and China is of the view that while the main role of the private sector is in implementation, given the level of development of the domestic private sector at this time and the low level of income in many Developing Countries, the public sector has a major role to play in implementation in these areas if the targets are to be met.

CSD 13 should lead to a clear language regarding stakeholder participation. Attention must be be raised that stakeholder participation should not lead to non-balanced strengthening of private sectors, but mainly focuses of grass root empowerment and public ownership over the coordination, aiming on win-win-solutions. EU: Ensuring ownership of all programs and actions to account for local needs, empower local actors in participating in policy decisions and actions and foster long term commitment to implementation .Therefore, relevant actors governmental or non-governmental, local, national, regional or global, from developed and developing countries, including private-sector, should be actively involved in multistakeholder decision making and implementation of actions and solutions .

Taking existing instruments (LA 21, Aalborg Charta) and regional experiences as a basis UN bodies should review needs for the development, improvement or better coordination of minimum guidelines for all elements of participative management of urbanization. An internationally coordinated, cross-institutional and participative process should be launched in order to learn from experiences, rise global awareness, speed up co-operation, clarify obstacles and improve the dissemination of strategies.

Modes of financing must shift from prioritising short-term projects with a focus on private investments to a priority on mid-term investments in public/social capacity building and transfer of technology for infrastructural improvements.

Clear decisions regarding follow up are necessary. The follow up should guarantee that issues, which had not been on the scope at CSD 13 can be addresses within the coming CSD circles, thus building a real process.
The EU
believes that the question of the monitoring and follow-up, as well as the need for coordination, needs to be addressed . It is crucial to keep track of progress in meeting the targets and the delivery on commitments between CSD13 and the overall review in 2016 . The monitoring and follow-up modalities should be based, as far as possible, on existing processes and initiatives . Moreover, a better understanding of the respective scopes of intervention of each of the actors in the different fora, is needed at the occasion of CSD 13 .
The CSD secretariat will have to continue its role in providing a comprehensive overview of implementation of all the CSD13 themes and their inter-linkages as part of the Secretary General’s report to the review year of respective implementation cycles and could profit from the monitoring of the MDGs . Also, at the national and regional levels, countries should be supported to develop their monitoring capacity and reporting processes in order to improve reliable data collection.

Source: AG Habitat Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung