|Statement by Ms. Wang Ling of the Chinese Delegation on Item 95 "Implementation of the Outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and of the twenty-fifth special session of the General Assembly" at the Second Committee of the 57th Session of the General Assembly|
The Chinese delegation would like to express its gratitude to the Secretary-General for his report on the strengthening of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and to the secretariat for having introduced the report. The Chinese delegation associates itself with the statement made by Venezuela on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
In 1996, the international community took a significant action in the field of human settlements by convening the important United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II). The Habitat Agenda adopted at the conference is a program which would guide countries in their efforts to realize sustainable human settlements development. Last year, the special session of the General Assembly on human settlements was successfully held, which adopted the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium and decided to transform the Commission on Human Settlements and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements into United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). Over the past six years, countries have made unrelenting efforts in improving their housing and living conditions and have achieved some results. However, it is clear that the problems of human settlements in the world are far from being solved. At present, many countries, especially developing countries, are faced with numerous difficulties in the field of human settlements which include, inter alia, inadequate infrastructure, traffic congestion, environmental degradation and lack of proper housing. There are still 40% to 50% of the world's city dwellers who live in slums. More than 1 billion people have no shelter or live in miserable conditions. There are at least 100 million homeless people in the world and 600 million people live in various conditions hazardous to health and even life-threatening.
The Habitat Agenda and the Declaration on Cities and Other Human settlements in the New Millennium have set out specific goals and measures with a view to solving the above-mentioned problems, to which governments have committed themselves. Nevertheless, there is a wide gap between commitments and reality. Now, it is the time that the international community turns the commitments into action. In this connection, I would like to emphasize the following two points:
First, the key to the solution of the problems in the field of human settlements lies in economic development and eradication of poverty. It is therefore necessary to further strengthen international cooperation in human settlements and establish genuine partnership among governments and with various stakeholders. The international community should create a favorable external environment for the economic and social development of developing countries, and help them reduce poverty and solve their practical difficulties in human settlements.
Second, policies, strategies and plans for human settlements should be formulated and implemented by each country according to its specific situation, capacity and conditions. Countries differ in political system, legal rules and regulations, administrative structure, level of economic development, history, culture and natural environment, thus they are faced with different problems in human settlements. In seeking solution to the problems in the field of human settlement, countries can learn from each other's lessons and experience, but there cannot possibly be a uniform method and model. The right of a country to independently choose its ways to solve its problems in human settlements should be respected. On matters related to decentralization and enhancement of the role of local authorities, it is necessary to respect a country's legal and policy framework, and let it formulate policies on the basis of its practical situation with the ultimate aim of promoting the realization of the goals set in the Habitat Agenda.
In its efforts to promote sustainable urban and rural development, the Chinese Government has always given great attention to the comprehensive management of urban environment, the enhancement of urban and rural infrastructure construction and the improvement of human settlements conditions. As a result, remarkable progress has been achieved. The per capita housing space in China's urban and rural areas have increased from 16.2 square meters and 21.8 square meters respectively in 1995 to 20.5 square meters and 25 square meters in 2000; the availability of running
water reached 96.7% in cities throughout the country; the per capita road space is 9.1 square meters and the per capita space of public green area is 6.8 square meters.
China's achievements in human settlements are attributable to its implementation of the Habitat Agenda in the context of its specific situation. The central government plays a coordinating role and provides full financial support while mobilizing the active participation of all sectors of the society.
We are willing to continue to strengthen cooperation with other countries and the relevant international organizations, including the UN-Habitat, in the field of human settlements and make our own contribution to the improvement of human settlements.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman