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Viewpoint from Britain


FEBRUARY 7, 1996


Viewpoint from Britain

By Ashali Varma

United Nations New York –In preparation for the final round of meetings on Habitat being held in New York, the European Union (EU), with its 15 member states, met in Brussels two weeks ago to prepare a text on the Habitat Agenda. “Our aim was to produce a clear position for the Conference. We contributed our views in detail,” Ann Grant said. As head of the Economic and Social division at the United Nations Mission to the United Kingdom, Grant has been involved in the preparatory process of both the Social Summit and the Fourth World Conference on Women. Speaking on a personal level, Grant told The Earth Times, that even for EU countries the process was not easy “as there were a great variety of issues.”

On the question of EU’s priorities, Grant said, “We are interested in an integrated follow-up to the Conference. We don’t want Habitat to be left on the side but think its important to treat the implementation process as a whole, linking all the conferences that have taken place.”

She thought that the work done in the Beijing conference on the role of women and development and women and human settlements could enrich the Habitat Agenda.

Grant said that the EU had made some practical suggestions for the Habitat Agenda. “At this meeting we are dealing with different participants from various fields like environment and urban planning. They have valuable expertise and we want to reinforce this.”

She explained that the people based in missions in New York, the people from Center for Human Settlements, Nairobi and experts from capitals are meeting here for the first time and the problem is going to be how to get a useful, relevant document in a very short period of time.  “The capital experts deal with urban planning and projects in cities, “Grant said, “and they  are unfamiliar with UN procedures and language. On the other hand we are learning about a whole new area of work like urban planning.”

“This conference has got together a lot of different constituencies and groups,” Grant said, “my only regret is that we have so little time.” Grant thought the NGOs especially have been doing very effective work internationally.