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ISTANBUL DECLARATION ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

The Istanbul Declaration, which was proposed and negotiated entirely in Istanbul, draws on the issues addressed in the Habitat Agenda. During their opening Plenary statements, the G-77/ CHINA announced that it would table a draft text and the EU stated that it would consider a summary document. The G-77/CHINA’s text included references to rural areas, new and additional resources and the future role of UNCHS. An EU proposal was significantly shorter. TURKEY submitted a “compromise” text that provided a “precise” summary of the Habitat Agenda.

Early debates in the open-ended Drafting Group centered on the purpose, structure and tenor of the text. Chair Kazildeli (Turkey) was asked to provide a shorter, more focused draft based on the original proposals, which included: a right to housing; rural settlements; production and consumption patterns; local government; and resources and implementation. The drafting group met until late Friday, 14 June, in part because it waited for the working groups to finalize text on related issues. Among the issues debated during the final days were: sustainable development and economic growth; the global economy; the promotion of gender equality [and equity]; the importance of [all][the family][families]; common but differentiated responsibilities; local action guided through local plans; and resources and implementation.

The fifteen-paragraph Declaration reaffirms Governments’ “commitment to better standards of living in larger freedom for all humankind.” Governments must combat deteriorating conditions by, inter alia, addressing “unsustainable consumption and production patterns, particularly in industrialized countries.” The interdependence of rural and urban development is noted. The promotion of “gender equality in policies, programmes and projects” for shelter is pledged. The “commitment to the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing as provided for in international instruments” is reaffirmed. In view of different contributions to global environmental degradation, governments reaffirm the principle that countries have common but differentiated responsibilities. Local action should be guided “through local programmes based on Agenda 21, the Habitat Agenda, or any other equivalent programme.” The Declaration calls for mobilization of financial resources at the national and international levels, including new and additional resources from all sources, and reiterates previous commitments, especially those in Agenda 21 on funding and technology transfer. Finally, the Declaration states that implementation of the Habitat Agenda requires “the strengthening of the role and functions of the UN Centre for Human Settlements,” taking into account the need for “the Centre to focus on well-defined and thoroughly-developed objectives and strategic issues.”

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