UN-HABITAT and the European Union joined forces at a meeting in New York this week to present their experiences in making cities around the world more sustainable.
The meeting on governance and local capaciaty development, was attended by delegates at the 13th Session of the Commission of Sustainable Development (CSD) currently underway in New York.
Mr. Eric Ponthieu of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said the aim of the EC's research directorate was to find exciting new local governance ideas that cross traditional administrative boundaries and can be transferred between cities in the North and South.
The Ugandan Minister of Local Government, Mr. Tarsis B. Kabwegyere, explained how over 500,000 village authorities had been integrated into the process of local governance. The success of this strategy was one reason why the Ugandan government had incorporated decentralisation into the Constitution of 1995, followed closely by the Local Government Act of 1997.
Mr. Kleist Sykes, Mayor of Dar es Salaam explained how the Sustainable Dar es Salaam programme started had started in 1992 with a stakeholder consultation leading to the prioritization of the key issues which needed to be tackled. At that time, the most important issue was solid waste management, closely followed by the urgent need to upgrade informal settlements, including the provision of basic services like clean water and sanitation.
The programme had since evolved to start redressing a chaotic transport system. He said the success of the environment planning and management system in Dar es Salaam had led to it being implemented in all the towns and cities of Tanzania.
European experts highlighted innovative public transport ideas in Belgium, and how planning at a town in Germany was taking conservation of the natural environment and cultural heritage into account.
Mr. Dinesh Mehta, Coordinator of UN-HABITAT’s Urban Management Programme, said the ultimate aim of their work was to be able to transfer such ideas and skills to developing countries to promote sustainable cities around the world.