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Habitat II Conference                      [ Back to Habitat II ]

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IV Global Plan of Action

E. International cooperation and coordination

1. Introduction

194. The goals of ensuring adequate shelter for all and making human settlements and communities more productive, healthy, safe, non-discriminatory, equitable and sustainable contribute to achieving world peace, development, stability, justice and human solidarity. International cooperation takes on added significance and importance in the light of recent trends in the globalization and interdependence of the world economy. There is an urgent need to redefine and resuscitate the existing processes and structure of cooperation and to evolve new and innovative forms of cooperation with a view to enabling humankind to face the challenges posed by the development of rural and urban areas. Thus there is a need for the political will of all States and for specific action at the international level to establish, inspire and encourage new forms of cooperation, partnership, coordination at all levels and investment from all sources, including the private sector, in order to contribute effectively to the provision and improvement of shelter conditions in human settlements, especially in developing countries, taking into account the diversity of the human settlements needs and opportunities among countries.

195. The formulation and implementation of strategies for human settlements development are the primary responsibility of each country at the national and local levels, within the legal framework of each country, and should take into account the economic, social and environmental diversity of conditions in each country. The overall decline in official development assistance, however, is a serious cause for concern. In some countries, this trend has also been accompanied by considerable increases in international flows of capital and by increasing private sector involvement in infrastructure and services development and management. The trend towards a shift from aid to trade clearly points to the need for the participation of the private sector in the shaping of international cooperation. The international community, including multilateral and bilateral assistance agencies, international financial institutions and the private sector, has an important role to play in providing additional resources to reinforce national efforts to foster an enabling environment so as to achieve the objectives of adequate shelter for all and the sustainable development of human settlements.

196. Globalization of the world economy presents opportunities and challenges for the development process as well as risks and uncertainties. In this context, international cooperation assumes added significance and importance in the wake of recent trends in the globalization of the world economy, on the one hand, and the continued deterioration of the plight of developing countries, on the other. Problems resulting from poverty, urbanization, lack of adequate shelter, including social housing, rapid population growth, rural-urban migration, economic stagnation and social instability are especially acute.

197. Innovative approaches and frameworks for international cooperation in the development and management of human settlements must be sought and developed to include the active participation of all levels of government, the private and cooperative sectors, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations in decision-making, policy formulation and resource allocation, implementation and evaluation. These approaches and frameworks should also include new and improved forms of cooperation and coordination between and among countries, multilateral and bilateral assistance agencies, international financial institutions, international organizations, and various organs and bodies of the United Nations system, including South-South, North-South and South-North exchanges of best practices, and the continuous development of tools and instruments for policy, planning and management, such as the application of shelter and urban indicators, human resources development and institutional capacity-building.

198. These innovative approaches should not only promote international cooperation but also include new forms of partnerships and cooperation involving civil society organizations, the private sector and local authorities. This implies recognition of complementary forms of decentralized cooperation and relations between and among local authorities and of their participation in international cooperation within the legal framework of each country, as well as their contribution to the process of defining human settlements policies. Governments, as well as bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, should commit themselves to encouraging cooperation between local authorities and to strengthening networks and associations of local authorities.

199. International economic imbalances, poverty and environmental degradation, combined with the absence of peace and security, human rights violations and the varying degrees of development of judicial and democratic institutions, are all factors affecting international migration. Orderly international migration can have positive impacts on both the communities of origin and the communities of destination, providing the former with remittances and the latter with needed human resources. International migration also has the potential of facilitating the transfer of skills and contributing to cultural enrichment. However, international migration entails the loss of human resources from many countries of origin and may give rise to political, economic or social tensions in countries of destination. These factors have a profound impact on the spatial distribution of city populations.

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