Kigali, 12 September 2013/ UNHABITAT/EC/ACP: Ministers, Mayors, government officials and civil society organisations in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries have pledged to increase their political will to develop and implement integrated strategies for sustainable urban development.
They made the commitment at the second International Tripartite Conference on "Sustainable Urbanization as Response to Urban Poverty Eradication" in Kigali, Rwanda, as they adopted the Kigali Declaration on 6 September. The meeting was jointly hosted by the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the European Commission, UN-Habitat and the Government of Rwanda.
"Given the rapid growth and constant flux, as well as urgent and pressing needs of the population, sustainable urbanization as a response to poverty eradication should be a top priority… One thing is certain, in order to achieve the desired results, you need a proactive balance between mission and obligation, policy makers and development partners," stated ACP Assistant Secretary General Mme Michele Dominique Raymond, who attended the meeting on behalf of the ACP Secretariat. (Read full statement)
The Declaration was adopted after four days of vibrant deliberations, during which delegates took stock of achievements of the Millennium Development Goal 7 on improving the living conditions of slum dwellers, harmonised contributions towards the post-2015 Development Agenda and sought to further reinforce the tripartite partnership to assist additional ACP countries to join the programme. The meeting also served as a preparation for ACP Countries ahead of the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) coming up in 2016.
Delegates at the meeting, while declaring that the Millennium Development Goal 7 Target D “to improve significantly, by 2020, the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers” has already been globally achieved and more than doubled, noted that the absolute number of slum dwellers is continuing to increase in most ACP countries despite all concerted efforts.
In the Kigali Declaration, the delegates recognised the transformative potential of well-planned and managed urbanisation as a driver for sustainable development, and pledged to place economic development at the centre of the urbanisation process and to create jobs which particularly target the urban youth.
They also committed to promote gender equality to address gender-based differences in the unequal participation in urban governance as well as in improving access to secure tenure, adequate housing, basic services and safe urban spaces.
Other commitments made in the Kigali Declaration include a pledge by member states with the support of their development partners, to:
* Institutionalise partnerships and empower key urban actors including local authorities, civil society and slum dweller organisations, property developers, research centres, the private sector and infrastructure and service providers to contribute to the eradication of urban poverty;
* Enable local governments to be effective agents of development through decentralisation and improved local governance including fiscal management;
* Ensure effective participation in human settlement planning and slum upgrading while mainstreaming human rights approaches into decision-making and programme design;
* Mobilise funds and leverage local resources to support participatory slum upgrading and prevention initiatives in line with the Habitat Agenda and other agreed international goals considering alternative housing options including especially rental housing provided by various actors including private sector; and
* Promote gender equality to address gender-based differences in the unequal participation in urban governance as well as in the access to secure tenure, adequate housing, basic services and safe urban spaces.
The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr Joan Clos, commended the delegates for the successful deliberations and for adopting the declaration, which he said provides the political backing for all the serious work that needs to be done. “Urbanisation is not an academic exercise, but has to do with the lives, livelihoods and well being of the people,” he said.
The conference was closed after messages by the Minister of Infrastructure for Rwanda, Prof Silas Lwakabamba, who congratulated the delegates for the accomplishments of the conference and urged them to follow through on the commitments made.
A key component of the tripartite collaboration is the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP). Currently, there are 34 countries and 150 cities across Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) participating in the programme.

The conference was attended by more than 450 participants from 54 countries, including over 38 Ministers, Deputy Ministers and City Mayors.
(Pictured: President Paul Kagame of Rwanda (centre) with ACP Assistant Secretary General Mme Michele Raymond and UNHABITAT Executive Director Dr Joan Clos to his right and Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Hon. Joyce Laboso and Hon. Louis Michel to his left, as well as other distinguished delegates at the conference/ Photo provided)