City-to-City Cooperation: UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, calls for cities to take collective responsibility for their future development
7 October, 2002: On the occasion of World Habitat Day, Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General
of the United Nations called for cities to recognise the importance of working
together to face common challenges. In his message, which was dedicated to the
theme of City-to-City Cooperation, he said that "If cities are the collective
future of humankind, it is time for us to take collective responsibility for
their future development."
message was read out by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive of UN-HABITAT, at
this year's global observances which were held in Brussels, Belgium, in the
presence of H.R.H. Prince Philippe and other distinguished delegates. The event
was co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International
Cooperaton of the Government of Belgium and the European Commission.
In her opening
address, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka reinforced the Secretary-General's message stating
that "in a globalizing world, where cities are increasingly important actors
in the international economy, it makes sense to look to local authorities to
provide support for urban development." She went on to say that " City-to-City
cooperation is an effective way to mobilize large scale development resources,
to actively exchange best practices and to improve the management capacity of
cities in the developing world."
the call for more City-to-City cooperation, Hon. Eddy Boutmans, the Belgian
Secretary of State for Development Cooperation, pointed out that Belgian cities
had a wealth of experience they could share. In fact, they had been working
with UN-HABITAT for the last 20 years on a number of joint projects including
Localising Agenda 21 which was working in cities in Morocco, Kenya, Vietnam
and Belgium and was about to be extended to the city of Bayamo in Cuba.
speech at the morning's meeting was by Mr. Amartya Sen, the Nobel Laureate,
which was presented on video and introduced by Romi Khosla. In his speech, Mr.
Amartya Sen argued that freedom is the primary end as well as the principal
means of development. He then called upon local authorities to enshrine the
principles of political and economic freedom, the need for social opportunities,
guarantees of transparency and protective security in a new charter of urban
the speeches, the prestigious UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honour was presented to this
year's award winners by H.R.H. Prince Philippe. This year the following were
awarded the prize:
* The Cities of Nakuru and Leuven were awarded for their multi-faceted City-to-City
cooperation on sustainable urban development.
* The Brazilian Institute of Municipal Administration (IBAM) was awarded for
its continuous support to local government development through training and
municipal and urban issues.
* Baotou Municipal Government in China was awarded for its outstanding improvements
in shelter and the urban environment and successful cooperation with other
* Citynet, which is based in Yokohama, Japan was awarded for playing a key
role in facilitating City-to-City Cooperation and networking amongst local
governments, non-governmental organisations and development agencies in Asia.
* The Dutch Habitat Platform was awarded for coordinating the Habitat Agenda
and linking municipalities in the Netherlands with their partners in developing
* Mayor Joan Clos of Barcelona received an award for his outstanding commitment
and contribution to the global cooperation between local authorities and the
* Enda Tiers Monde, from Dakar Senegal, received an award for promoting alternative
development options at the local level, reducing poverty and advocating housing
* Rene Frank from the United States of America, was presented with an award
for his dedication to low-cost housing as a leading member of the International
Real Estate Federation (FIABCI).
* John Hodges of the Infrastructure Urban Development Department of the British
Government's Department of International Development, was specially cited
for his contribution to poverty elimination and sustainable urban development
in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
At the same
ceremony, His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium also presented the World
Habitat Awards, given annually by the Building and Social Foundation, to the
Architects Community Programme in Cuba for affordable technical support to over
250,000 households who are building or renovating their homes on a self-help
basis. An award was also given to the Tokyo based, Setagaya-ku Fukasawa Symbiotic
Housing for designing a socially and environmentally sustainable housing project
for households of all ages.
during the day included an international panel discussion on City-to-City cooperation
which was led by the Cities Alliance Policy Advisory Body and chaired by the
BBC journalist Steve Bradshaw. In the evening, there was an exhibition of children's
drawings on urban themes and a launch of two UN-HABITAT publications. Sustainable
Urbanization- Bridging the Green and Brown Agendas was produced jointly with
the British Department for International Development (DFID) and the Development
Planning Unit (DPU) of the University of London. The report on Housing Rights
Legislation was jointly produced by UN-HABITAT and the Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights, (OHCHR).
the global observances in Brussels, there were parallel celebrations all over
the world. In New York, representatives from Sister Cities International, local
government, business and citizen's groups met at the Dag Hammarskjold Library
Auditorium to discuss how to advance City-to-City cooperation. In Nairobi, there
were major festivities at the national stadium to celebrate World Habitat Day.