9 November 2009The United Nations and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have launched a fund to help the vast country recover from years of devastating civil war that ended earlier this decade, and continuing strife in its eastern provinces that has displaced more than a million people. “The start of [the Government’s] STAREC [stabilization and recovery programme] and today’s launch of the stabilization and recovery fund are perfect examples of the way in which the United Nations and its international partners work in the DRC in supporting sovereign national authorities for the populations benefit,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Alan Doss told the launching ceremony in Kinshasa, the capital, on Friday.“With the support of donors, like the Netherlands and Belgium today, our efforts on the ground will be able to be more effective.”The Netherlands has donated $2.7 million, while Belgium has pledged at least €6 million for programmes aimed at eliminating sexual violence, in addition to $20 million already allotted from the UN Peacebuilding Fund.The stabilization and recovery fund’s council announced several projects, including the rehabilitation of former combatants, training for the national army and housing for the families of soldiers, the deployment of national police in strategic zones, support for war wounded and the establishment of business centres in mining zones.
Drawing participants from across the globe, the first ever United Nations World Urban Forum opened today in Nairobi aiming to explore innovative policies and best practices for sustainable urbanization and to chart strategies for easing the plight of the planet’s 100 million slum dwellers. Organized by the UN Human Settlements Programme, or Habitat, the five-day meeting will examine a wide range of issues related to the world’s burgeoning cities in an effort to formulate recommendations that will be considered at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, set to take place in Johannesburg later this year.In a video message, UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette stressed the need to create cities that work for people and not against them.For her part, Habitat Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka underscored that the World Urban Forum would debate issues at the forefront of the “brown agenda,” and sustainable urbanization. “This is the place to generate innovative models of urban management, to test out new ideas and harness creative thoughts to make our cities healthy, safe, productive, equitable and democratic.”The pressing issues facing the Forum are evident in stark urbanization statistics: 50 years ago, New York was the only metropolis with a population of more than 10 million, while today there are 19 such cities, according to Habitat.For the first time in history, half of humanity – some 3 billion people – lives in cities and towns. The agency estimates that between 1990 and 1995 alone, cities in the developing world grew by 263 million people – the equivalent of adding one Los Angeles every three months.Ms. Tibaijuka cautioned that there is no “quick fix” for the problems facing cities. “The challenge for the international community is clear: to make both urbanization and globalization work for everyone through expansion that is socially equitable and environmentally sustainable,” she said. “This is why the World Urban Forum will focus on urban poverty eradication and sound environmental practices.”The World Urban Forum has been designated by the UN General Assembly as an advisory body to support governments and other partners in implementing the Habitat Agenda adopted during the Habitat II conference in 1996 in Istanbul.