Historical archive

The Challenges of Urban Poverty and Slum Eradication

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development

Ms. Erna Solberg, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development

Welcome address by Ms. Erna Solberg at the conference "The Challenges of Urban Poverty and Slum Eradication", February 11, 2004. (05.03.2004)

Ms. Erna Solberg, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development

The Challenges of Urban Poverty and Slum Eradication

Welcome address at the conference "The Challenges of Urban Poverty and Slum Eradication", February 11, 2004

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome our distinguished speakers and the audience who are here today to discuss some of the main issues in human settlements development, - “the Challenges of Urban Poverty and Slum Eradication”.

In particular I would like to thank;
Ms Brigitte Mabandla, Minister of Housing in South Africa and her company
Mr Lars Reuterward from UNHabitat,
Mr Mark Hildebrand from Cities Alliance,
Mr Alain Durant-Lasserve from the Task Force 8
And the Norwegian professionals, Professor Kåre Lilleholt and Director Jon Pedersen

For travelling to this meeting and for their kind acceptance of the task to present their views on the important subjects we are here to debate.

My ministry is the focal point in Norway for our international involvement in human settlement issues I am therefore very pleased to have the honour of welcoming you all to this meeting. The ministry on the national arena is responsible for inter alia decentralization and local authorities, housing and human settlement issues in urban areas, regional development and immigration and minority issues

Internationally, as the focal point on these issues, my ministry has been engaged in the work of UNHabitat nearly from the start of the organisation in 1978 when the starting point was the year of the homeless in 1976. The main objectives of UNHabitat in recent years have been adequate housing for all and a sustainable urbanization – which were the main themes at Habitat II in 1996. These themes are now well coordinated with the Millennium Goals, which Mr. Lars Reutersward will describe in more detail.

At present Norway is heavily engaged in UNHabitat`s work, supporting the organisation (with NOK 10 mill in a non-earmarked financial support, 10 mill to the Water and S. Trust Fund, approximately 10 mill. to Cities Alliance and some other programmes in 2003) financially as one of the main contributors, and not in the least by playing an active role in the Governing Council` and other meetings, as will be mentioned by the later speakers.

Throughout the years the Norwegian foreign and assistance policies have had their focus on poverty eradication, sustainable development, the gender perspective, decentralization, water and sanitation, among other themes. Which will be dealt with more in detail in the following interventions.

The Norwegian policies are therefore very much in line with the realization globally of the increasing urbanization process and the growing urban poverty. The need to improve the conditions for the poor and to fight the growth in poverty was manifested in the adoption of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) by the heads of states in 2000, and in particular by adopting the MDG 7 target 11, “ By 2020 to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers” and the MDG 7, target 10 “To halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation”.

There is also globally a growing realization that the human settlement field is a relevant setting for fighting poverty, - through integrated approaches and by combining many aspects, measures and resources.

But awareness needs to be raised of the immensity of the problem, - approximately 1000 million persons are today living in slums. In 30 years` time that number may have doubled unless the international world, the national and local authorities and the population itself can turn the trends. How to do it?

Awareness needs also to be raised that there are solutions and measures that can be used, that are available and adaptable and must be disseminated. Solutions are being tried out, in various forms, in various regions and cultures. We need to learn from these examples,

The reason for arranging this conference is therefore to discuss ways and means to fight urban poverty. And as measures to achieve these objectives, we need to find out how inter alia to develop local urban governance, which in partnership with the civil society can mobilize local resources. We need to find solutions adaptable in the various national contexts on the issues of housing rights and secure tenure, the rights and role of women, financing of adequate housing and income generating activities, etc, etc.

We are arranging this conference today also as a opportunity to prepare for the meeting in New York where the CSD 12 as a review session will review the implementation of measures to deal with these pressing global problems in the field of human settlements.

The conference today is an opportunity to discuss some of the main themes and solutions that will be debated in New York.The national conference is thereby presenting an opportunity for Norwegian professionals to comment on these issues, - and to “enlighten” the Norwegian delegation and representatives of Norwegian civil society organisations who will be present at the meeting in N.Y.

How to fight poverty, how to develop a more just and equal and sustainable society; these are the main issues. We all need to participate in the efforts to find solutions - in solidarity with the millions of persons who suffer from poverty and lack of an adequate standard of living.

I therefore hope, as we are very fortunate to have here today many international and national highly competent experts, that this conference will lead to something good for many people.

And I hope that we will all continue to try and improve the lives of the urban poor.

Welcome to you all and the best of luck with the conference.

Thank you for your attention.

I hope that you will have a pleasant stay in Norway.