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Executive Director's Message

It is time to take stock of the year that has just ended and map out plans to ensure the success of the year 2002. At the end of my first year with UN-HABITAT, I would like to express my very sincere gratitude for the commitment, professionalism and team spirit displayed by staff and members of the Commission on Human Settlements in the first year of the new millennium. It was one that was full of challenges and successes for our organization.

The year 2001 was a very special year indeed. Contributions to the Habitat Human Settlements Foundation more than doubled. This achievement is the result of increased confidence in the management and the delivery capacity of our organization.

One of the greatest developments in 2001 was that on 21 December of that year the General Assembly took a historic decision. It elevated the Centre and its governing body to the status of a full-fledged United Nations Programme. Consequently, the General Assembly decided that with effect from 1 January 2002, the Centres name should change to The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (or UN-HABITAT, for short); while the governing body, the Commission on Human Settlements, becomes The Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. The Governing Council was also made a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly. Henceforth, all reference to our organization will reflect these decisions.

The moving force behind these decisions was the Secretary-General, following his strong endorsement for the strengthening of UN-HABITAT and its governing body, as reflected in his report to the General Assembly. I must also mention the vigorous and supportive role played by the Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Dr. Klaus Toepfer, who also laid a solid foundation for the revitalization of UN-HABITAT.

Delegations in New York, drawing on positive briefs from their colleagues in Nairobi, took note of our collective efforts to improve and strengthen UN-HABITAT. They worked long and hard to achieve a result that would be substantive, meaningful and lasting. They reconciled their different views because they believe in UN-HABITAT and the cause for which we are working. This is a rare and precious recognition, for which we thank delegates, and one that we shall continue to work hard to enhance in the future.

The achievement of such an important outcome in so short a time, only six months after the conclusion of Istanbul +5, which laid the foundation for this reform, happened because of the good work of our international and local personnel working late hours in Nairobi and other UN-HABITAT regional offices. It also happened because of our field personnel, most of them operating under the harshest conditions, local authorities and civil-society constituencies working practically in every corner of the world for the cause of shelter and improved human settlements for all. It is this strength that established the good reputation of UN-HABITAT, and that made this recognition possible.

As we enter the year 2002, we shall meet new challenges. They will not be of an institutional nature. We will have to demonstrate the capacity of the new UN-HABITAT to give further impetus to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, and to the Millennium Declarations goal of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers. UN-HABITAT will be called upon not only to do its statutory work, but also to help in the recovery and reconstruction of cities, towns and villages all over the world in old and new post-conflict situations.

I know I can count on the support by the staff and the continued cooperation of Members of the Governing Council in moving toward these ambitious objectives. I am looking forward to the New Habitat for the New Millennium. But on this occasion, I want to wish you all a joyful 2002 with your families.

Welcome to 2002. And welcome to UN-HABITAT.


Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka
Executive Director
UN-HABITAT


 

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