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WORKING GROUP I

The Group continued consideration of Agenda Item 2, Preparations for the Conference.

NATIONAL AND REGIONAL PREPARATIONS: Several countries including Romania, Benin, Algeria, Tanzania, Cameroon, Senegal, Bulgaria, Malawi, Zambia, Gabon and The Gambia had undertaken activities such as creating broad- based national committees and preparing national reports and plans of action. Norway held a ministerial level round-table this year whose output is available. In light of recent experiences, Rwanda is starting from scratch and needs financial assistance. France will host an international meeting for mayors from 20 cities in 5 regions in November.

The Economic Commission for Europe reported on the regional preparatory meeting held in September 1994, in Geneva, which established an open-ended task force to monitor regional activities. UNIDO will convene a colloquium on issues such as waste disposal systems and environmental regulations, and will hold regional consultations with the housing industry.

The World Health Organization described its Healthy Cities Programme and proposed a presentation on the programme during Habitat II. ESCAP highlighted a publication on habitat issues in Asian cities and will convene a forum on urban issues in Asia. Indonesia is planning a national awareness campaign. Greece has held three national conferences and begun a country-wide competition on Best Practices.

Swaziland asked why subregional organizations such as SADC were not involved and whether the preparation of the Global Plan of Action (GPA) would be based on the national action programmes or vice versa. The Secretariat said its GPA was prepared with input from three sources: cross- and multi-sectoral issues identified in PrepCom I; preliminary priorities from national reports and regional and subregional meetings; and over 300 experts from around the world. The group redrafting the GPA intends to base its version on national action programmes.

FUNDING: Swaziland, Gabon and Algeria reiterated the funding concerns raised Thursday by India and Kenya. Burundi asked the Secretariat not to tire of helping developing countries as Habitat II approaches. The Gambia warned that its preparatory process will fail without immediate financial support. Malawi had requested assistance for its housing indicators programme and national plan of action, but received none. Zambia has completed an urban indicators program for its capital city, but lacks the funds to continue.

The Secretariat reported that the total income including pledges and funds requested from the regular UN budget is US$5.3 million. The total received to date is US$4.6 million. US$3.3 million has been spent for partial reimbursement of activities including PrepCom I participation, regional and subregional meetings, gender and women's networking activities, documentation of best practices and NGO participation. In kind contributions amount to US$8.9 million. Cash pledges have been provided by 18 countries, including two developing countries.

Thirty-nine requests for financial assistance have been received from developing countries. The assistance provided falls into three categories: application of indicators, documentation of best practices, and ad hoc technical assistance. In total, 55 countries have received technical assistance. The Secretariat hopes to provide assistance to 39 countries in 1995, in particular to national committees, regional and sub-regional meetings and the preparation of national reports and national plans of action.

INFORMATION: Tanzania urged the Secretariat to utilize country missions in Nairobi or the UNDP offices to forward information to governments, while Benin noted that countries without missions in Nairobi receive information late. He requested Turkey to provide information on Istanbul at least six months before Habitat II. The Secretariat is using four channels to disseminate information on Best Practices: missions in Nairobi, national committees whose addresses are available, key actors and the media.

ISTANBUL AND DUBAI PREPARATIONS: Gabon commented that the Group was not given any information on Turkey's civil war during the last meeting. Turkey said the best answers on the 'alleged civil war' should come from the Secretary-General of Habitat II, who recently visited Istanbul. He added that Turkey hosted many international meetings last year.

The Secretariat is currently considering the question of selection criteria for Best Practices and the possibility of setting up an independent international jury comprising all key actors. France had proposed that selection and nomination criteria should be consistent and that different categories for successful cases should be developed. He urged other delegates to share their suggestions on the issue.

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