THE EARTH TIMES
FEBRUARY 8, 1996
Sweden is optimistic on Habitat
By Ashali Varma
United Nations, New York—As the head of the Swedish delegation to PrepCom3 of the Habitat Conference, Ambassador Lars-Goran Engfeldt says that the Habitat II is very important to his country on two levels. “On the global level it is significant because it is the last in the series of UN Conferences that deal with the broad issues of human survival and people centered sustainable development,” Engfeldt said Wednesday, ”and on another level the way this conference is organized, signifies an important evolution on how the international community shapes its agenda for the future.”
The fact that local authorities, the private sector, parliamentarians and NGOs among others will have the possibility to influence the outcome is significant according to Engfeldt, “because the problems that this conference deals with are very complex. It includes difficult housing problems and the impact of growing cities on society and the environment.”
Engfeldt said that Sweden has all along stressed the social dimension of this conference and the fact that adequate shelter is a prerequisite for development, along with education and health.
In addition, on the national level there has been a very broad involvement of Swedish society in the preparations for the conference. “We formed a preparatory group as far back as June 1993, headed by the Swedish Minister of Industry, Commerce, Housing and Energy, Jorgen Andersson,” said Engfeldt.
The group included representatives of all parties in parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, other relevant ministries, national authorities, the Swedish Association of local authorities, NGOs and the academic world. The group has held seminars and meetings and has been in charge of preparing the Swedish National Report for the Conference which was endorsed by the government and given to the Secretariat.
“We have also supported the process with direct financial contributions to Habitat II,” said Engfeldt, Sweden has given 4 million kroner (the equivalent of US$526,000). In addition, Sweden gives the Centre for Human Settlements 5 million kroner annually. Engfeldt’s wife, Christina, heads the Centre’s Department of Public Information.
Engfeldt said that on the question of implementation, Sweden has stressed the need to strengthen the security of tenure. In his statement at the opening of PrepCom3, Minister Jorgen Anderson said, “I have personally made a proposal to the Secretary General of the Conference for a set of minimum standard rules on tenancy and tenure protection furthering the rights of individuals to a home.”