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Jimmy Carter on the Habitat Agenda



Jimmy Carter on the Habitat Agenda

By Ashali Varma

Secretary General Wally N’Dow of the UN Conference on Human Settlements –better known as Habitat II, or the City Summit—travelled to Georgia to meet Jimmy Carter.  The former US President enthusiastically endorsed Habitat, highlighting the need for decent housing for the world’s dispossessed. 

Secretary General Wally N’Dow of United Nations Conference on Human Settlements called on former US President Jimmy Carter in Georgia and invited his support for the City Summit “as an important contribution to the rights of people everywhere for safe and adequate shelter.”  There is widespread hope in the international community that Carter will attend the summit in Istanbul June 3-14.

The meeting between the two leaders took place at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, where the former President conducted a Sunday School class on Feb 18.  Speaking in an overcrowded hall, Carter said that Habitat II was being sponsored by the UN “to try to understand how the people of the world, acting collectively, can deal with the problem of homelessness and dangerous shelter.

“It is a very exciting, very challenging, very difficult subject to deal with,” Carter said.  “It is  very important for us as Americans that our government contribute to the orderly preparation of this conference.”

He spoke about human rights in general and the view of other countries—especially poor countries—who ask, in Carter’s words, “How about the right of everyone to have a job? How about the right of everyone to have good health care?  How about the right of everyone to have a place to live?”

The former President then invited Dr. N’Dow to address the congregation.  The Secretary General said: “How we answer the question of how we will live and where we will live will determine our future.  That is what the Istanbul Conference is all about.  And we have come together here properly and fittingly in the shadow of the tremendous prestige of President Carter as we head toward Istanbul.  We hope that our own ambitions and aspirations for this global conference will be met there with his help and with his leadership.”

After the Sunday School session, Carter and N’Dow continued their discussions at a luncheon in Americus with Millard Fuller, president and co-founder of Habitat for Humanity International, which he and N’Dow announced would play “an important role” in Istanbul.

“HabitatII is an extremely important and significant conference for our organization and the world,” Fuller said. “I am truly looking forward to going to Istanbul, actively participating in

the event and addressing the attendees from all over the world,”

Fuller said that when he and his wife Linda founded Habitat for Humanity, they derived its name in part from Habitat I, the first UN conference on human settlements that took place in Vancouver in 1976.

President Carter is Habitat for Humanity’s best known volunteer. He helps carry out its work with people everywhere to build or renovate simple, decent and affordable houses through tax

deductible donations, no-interest loans and volunteer labor.  Its international headquarters is

located in Americus. “Habitat for Humanity is an unequalled  success story in an area where most efforts seem scanty, patchy and insufficient,” said N’Dow, addressing several hundred Habitat for Humanity International stall and volunteers, “We are here to share the vision you have, to invite your own participation and lend your tremendous prestige to ensure the success of Habitat II.”