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HABITAT II BRIEFING

On Monday, 13 November 1995, Dr. Wally N'Dow, Secretary-General of Habitat II, briefed General Assembly delegates about the upcoming Conference. He framed the context of Habitat II by portraying the future of the world as one that is becoming ever more urbanized. The city is, and will increasingly be, the locus of human activity. It is from here, therefore, that changes to improve the world must spring. It is crucial that human settlements be environments that are conducive to sustainable livelihoods by providing for basic needs such as shelter, health, education, and employment.

Dr. N'Dow reviewed the relevance of other post-UNCED conferences to Habitat II. In Cairo, at the International Conference on Population and Development, the focus was on the ability to balance the impact of growing numbers of humans and the carrying capacity of the environment. At the Social Summit in Copenhagen, at issue was a social agenda to ensure the cohesiveness of society — how to encourage human soldidarity in communities and cities. In Beijing at the Fourth World Conference on Women, the message became ever clearer — human societies will never rise above the level beyond that at which women have been kept. The issues discussed at all of these global conferences have implications and relevance for Habitat II, which is about how and where people live, and how to forge a new landscape for the future.

Two brief videos on preparatory activities by the host country for Habitat II were followed by a briefing from Mr. G�rel T�z�n, the Habitat II Coordinator for the Host Country. He outlined the organizational structure of the preparations, for which the Turkish Housing Development Administration was chosen to be the central coordinating agency. The Conference, as well as its associated events, will take place in "Conference Valley," which has several diverse facilities: a congress center, a convention hall, a cultural center, an open-air amphitheater, as well as the Istanbul Technical University, where the NGO Forum will be held. All of these facilities are in close proximity to one another, and the area is centrally located in Istanbul. In the vicinity, there are 3-5-star hotels with bed capacity for 17,000, as well as convenient shuttle services.

An International Trade Fair is also being planned in conjunction with the Conference. The Fair will be held at the World Trade Center and its theme will be innovative, low-cost, environmental services, products, and technologies in housing, construction, and human settlements. Numerous exhibitions will also be featured, notably an Exhibition on Best Practices organized by the Habitat II Secretariat. Other activities that will take place in conjunction with the Conference include film festivals on cities, art exhibitions, and the celebration of World Environment Day and World Youth Day.