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On last day of "Istanbul + 5" committee, chairman stresses benefits of its work

On last day of "Istanbul + 5" committee, chairman stresses benefits of its work

As the Thematic Committee of the General Assembly special session on shelter concluded its work today, the body's chairman said the forum had presented an opportunity to discuss and benefit from shared experience.

Slaheddine Belaid, Minister for Building Planning and Habitat of Tunisia, said in his concluding remarks that about half of the 16 projects described during the three-day session could be taken up in his own country, be it the reconstruction of a historical city centre, the rehabilitation of an entire region or protection against floods.

He said that the universal nature of the topics could make a case for holding regular thematic sessions and that he would give a brief summary of the Thematic Committee's work this evening at the Plenary meeting of the special session.

The Thematic Committee, meeting for the first time, has been established to allow a forum for an exchange of experiences and lessons learned since the 1996 Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul. The General Assembly special session - also known as "Istanbul + 5" - is conducting an overall review of the implementation of that conference.

In his closing remarks, the Thematic Committee's Vice-Chairman, Jose Maria Matomoros, President of the National Council on Shelter of Venezuela, said people struggling with shelter problems should not be viewed as objects calling upon society and demanding attention, hand-outs, or consideration of one kind or another. They should instead be seen as subjects requiring solutions to the challenges of development.

Another Vice-Chairperson, Erna Witoelar, Minister for Human Settlements and Human Structures of Indonesia, highlighted the striking similarities in many of the presentations made over the last three days. The session had been very useful, she said, because it had given governors, mayors and other administrators an opportunity to hear the views and experiences of people from other places, she said.

Today's session of the Thematic Committee had included case studies on Thailand, El Salvador, Peru and Morocco. Yesterday afternoon's case studies were from Brazil, France, Nigeria, and Spain.