|Statement by Liu Zhongxin, Adviser of The Chinese Delegation at the 60th Session of the UNGA on Item 53:Implementation of the Outcome of the UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habit II) and the 25th Special Session of the UNGA|
Since the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) held in 1996 and the 25th Special Session of the UNGA held in 2001, the global human settlements situation, despite improvements, is still beset by many outstanding problems; a great number of impoverished populations are still deprived of housing and the global environmental and ecological degradation are significantly affecting human settlements. The challenges facing the developing countries in particular are all the more severe.
The problem of human settlements is a global one. To solve this problem, it is imperative to mainstream human settlements into national development strategies. The two major goals set by Habitat II, namely, "adequately shelter for all" and "sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world", can only be achieved through joint efforts of and enhanced cooperation among all countries. A comprehensive implementation of the Habitat Agenda requires actions by all sides, with special attention to the following:
1. Respecting domestic circumstances of countries and their autonomy in decision-making. Countries are different in political systems, laws and regulations, economic development levels, cultures and traditions, customs and practices, and natural environments. As a result, they are faced with different human settlements problems. In tackling human settlements, countries may learn from and draw on each other's experience, but it is impossible to adopt a uniform approach or model. The policies, strategies, plans and priorities formulated to solve the human settlements problem by different countries in light of their domestic circumstances, capacities and conditions should therefore be respected.
2. Pursuing sustainable development as the overarching principle. The relationship among population growth, environmental protection and human settlements development needs to be correctly handled by all countries. While working in sync with economic development, human settlements development should also be coordinated with population growth, productivity expansion, resource utilization and environmental protection, so as to follow the path of sustainable development. It is essential to control the population growth in a planned way and strengthen the ecological and environmental protection, which will in turn facilitate the human settlements development.
3. Promoting the extensive participation of the whole society. Human settlements development represents one of the most important signs of the development and progress of a society. As it is closely related to the interest of each and every individual and family, extensive participation by the whole society is indispensable. In our view, governments should bear the primary responsibility for solving the human settlements issue. At the same time, given the extensive scope of human settlements development and its inclusive nature, it is essential to promote the widest possible participation of the whole society. All partners of the Habitat Agenda, such as local governments and private sectors, should be encouraged to bring into full play their enthusiasm and creativity in the common endeavor to improve and develop human settlements.
4. Persisting in international cooperation. To address the question of human settlements requires not only domestic efforts, but also a sound external environment and effective international cooperation. The improvement of human settlements conditions in the developing countries is both the key to and the focus of the global human settlements development. Proceeding from the common interests of mankind, the international community, especially the developed countries, needs to demonstrate political will and determination in order to create favorable external conditions for the economic and social development of the developing countries. In particular, the commitments made on financing, technology transfer, provision of expertise, market access, debt relief and cancellation should be fulfilled so as to help the developing countries improve their ability to promote human settlements development.
Since Habitat II and the Special Session on Human Settlements, in keeping with the two major themes of "adequately shelter for all" and "sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world", as well as the various specific objectives related to human settlements in the Millennium Development Goals, the Chinese government has stepped up its efforts in the urban and rural housing reform area and accelerated housing constructions, with noteworthy achievements. The housing conditions and environment of our people have registered considerable improvement. In the course of urban and rural development, the Chinese government accords top priority to housing and human settlements development through pushing forward the reform of the housing commercialization system, establishing socialized housing security system, securing the right to shelter and the interests of low and middle income households, improving housing functions and qualities, and developing energy-efficient housing. At present, with its urban population totaling 524 million and urbanization at 40.5%, China has entered a rapid development stage. Great improvements have been made in the housing conditions and rights and interests of the general public, those of low and middle income families in particular. The urban and rural per capita housing footage has reached 23.7 and 27.7 square metres respectively.
In addition, the Chinese government is doubling its efforts to formulate and implement nationwide ecological and environmental protection programmes, regional and municipality-level plans, as well as nature reserves and scenic spots protection programmes, with a view to coordinating and accommodating urban and regional economic and social development, resource development and utilization and the protection of natural and humanistic environments, thereby contributing to the improvement of human settlements. China inaugurated in 2000 the "China Human Settlements Environment Award", which was intended to cite and commend those towns and cities, institutions and individuals with outstanding contributions to the improvement of human settlements and to encourage local governments to intensify efforts in the integrated management of ecological environment. China's efforts in human settlements development has also been recognized by the international community. As of 2004, a total of 12 Chinese projects had received UN Habitat Awards.
We stand ready to strengthen the exchanges and cooperations with other countries in the filed of human settlements development in an effort to further implement the Habitat Agenda and attain MDG goals, so as to not only further improve China's human settlements, but also contribute to the global human settlements development endeavors.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.