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WORKING GROUP II SUBGROUP A

Subgroup A continued informal informals on the Preamble. Some paragraphs required a subgroup to produce a new draft, while others will be produced by the Secretariat. The Secretariat distributed a redrafted Paragraph 1, which states: "As we enter the 21st century, our vision of a world of justice and peace, stability and development must be reinforced. There is a sense of great opportunity and hope that a world can be built in which social and economic progress, ethical and spiritual vision, and sustainable development, environmental protection, people-centred development and better standards of living can be realized through international cooperation, solidarity and effective partnerships at all levels." The Chair summarized Wednesday's debate on Paragraph 2: Habitat II will address the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements in a developing world. Some delegates mentioned the need for a reference to the right to housing, while others stressed that the paragraph was too detailed. Delegates did not resolve the relationship between sustainable development and other elements.

Paragraph 3 states that the international community, in convening Habitat II, has decided that a concerted global approach could greatly enhance progress toward the aforementioned goals. According to written comments, the EU suggested a stronger reference to unsustainable consumption and production, the US proposed language on enabling strategies and the G-77/China recommended a reference to developing countries. Delegates debated whether consumption patterns belonged in this paragraph and questioned a reference to "social deficiencies."

Paragraph 4 states that the Habitat II agenda results from experiences since the Vancouver Conference on Habitat and subsequent world conferences. During discussion, delegates debated references to other conferences and Agenda 21. One NGO said language on local authorities and Local Agenda 21s should be included, but several delegations objected. They also questioned the manner of NGO participation.

Paragraph 5 discusses the historic benefits of urbanization. In written proposals, the EU noted that the growth of cities causes changes that exceed city boundaries. The Holy See proposed adding "religious" to the types of participation that urbanization improves. The G-77 proposed noting that cities often act as engines of growth for development. During discussions, some objected to "religious." They again questioned NGO involvement.

Paragraph 6 details the challenges facing cities, including lack of employment, poverty, the growing gap between rich and poor, insecurity, pollution and rapid migration to mega-cities. References proposed in written submissions included: gender inequality (US); crime (Holy See); widening gap and international migration (G-77/China); clean water and sanitation, and the linkage between economy, environment and society in urban management (Australia); disease (Canada); aesthetic dimensions (Ukraine); and street children and sexual abuse (UNICEF).

Paragraph 7 addresses the challenge of renewed development efforts in rural settlements in a globalized world. The G-77/China proposed references to massive rural to urban migration. Canada suggested language on commercial interests and "people-centred" sustainable development. The US added language on sanitation, transportation and energy. One delegation said it is important to acknowledge difficulties posed for rural areas by population growth and expressed a desire to substitute "interdependent" for "globalized" world. Another delegation said measures to address rural development will ease mass rural to urban migration.

Paragraph 8 addresses the problem of rural population growth, sustainable development, and migration to urban destinations. The G-77/China proposed language on the linkage between the lack of economic opportunity and migration to urban centers, and Canada referred to the rural-urban continuum. Some delegations defended language on new approaches to eradicate poverty through sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

Paragraph 9 notes that more people than ever are living in poverty and without adequate shelter. Several delegations submitted written proposals, and many called for special attention to the problems of women, children and youth, and indigenous people. During discussions, delegates agreed to most proposed references. Delegates bracketed a proposal on international cooperation on refugees and internally displaced persons. A reference to housing rights was also bracketed.

Paragraph 10 states that governments at all levels often lack legal, institutional, financial and human resources to respond to rapid urbanization, and many local authorities are taking on these challenges with open, accountable and effective leadership. According to written submissions, the EU suggested a reference to vulnerable groups of both sexes, the US proposed language on enablement and responsibility, and the G-77/China stated that human settlement problems are rooted in poverty. During discussion, some delegates again objected to NGO participation and called for an adjournment pending resolution. The group agreed to present the matter to the Bureau.

Paragraph 11 notes that there are critical differences between and within nations regarding human settlements that make it necessary to adjust the implementation of the Global Plan of Action, taking into account the specific situation of each country. Delegates debated the language for specific situations and designated the EU to produce a new draft. Paragraph 12 states that the Habitat Agenda issues a global call to action. The group agreed to use the original text with amendments specifying that Habitat II issues a global call to action at all levels, and included a reference to children and Local Agenda 21s.

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