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Annan calls for major boost to improving lot of world's slum dwellers

Annan calls for major boost to improving lot of world's slum dwellers

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for a major boost in improving the lives of the scores of millions of slum dwellers around the world, calling it an important step on the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of slashing extreme poverty and hunger in half by 2015.

Different regions are experiencing urbanization in different ways, with Latin America and the Caribbean already home to several 'mega-cities,' while in sub-Saharan Africa, the world's least urbanized region, people are moving to urban areas faster than anywhere else, he said in a message to a meeting on sustainable cities in Havana, Cuba.

"Dealing with these urban challenges is especially important in light of the efforts of Member States to achieve the targets set out in the Millennium Declaration," Mr. Annan told the Global Meeting on the Sustainable Cities Programme and Localizing Agenda 21 Programme in the message, read out by the UN-Habitat Director of the Global Campaign on Secure Tenure, Farouk Tebbal.

He noted that in September heads of state will gather at a world summit at UN Headquarters in New York to assess progress in attaining the MDGs, including the degree to which governments, community-based organizations and the private sector have succeeded in "improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers."

"But the Summit must be about more than assessment," he declared. "It must lead to a major boost for development efforts from both developing countries and their development partners.

"In the run-up to the Summit, this Global Meeting is an important opportunity to focus on the 'cities without slums' target, along with the environmental sustainability targets related to water and sanitation," he added.