UN Habitat preparatory conference: input by Department of Human Settlements, with Deputy Minister present

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

11 August 2015
Chairperson: Ms N Mafu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met for a briefing on South Africa's Preparatory Process for HABITAT III by the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements and a delegation from the Department of Human Settlements. The matters were reviewed and clarified without major alterations.

The Chairperson called on the Committee Members to familiarize themselves with the working document, and if necessary, call the team back to report on the progress of HABITAT III and clarify further questions or doubts from the Committee.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members, the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Ms Zou Kota and a delegation from the Department of Human Settlements (DHS).

Remarks by the Deputy Minister
Deputy Minister Zou Kota thanked the Chairperson the opportunity to brief the Committee
on South Africa's Preparatory Process for HABITAT III. She proceeded to introduce the presenters Ms Monika Glinzler, DHS Director of the International Relations Program and Mr William Jiyana, DHS Stakeholder Manager.

Department of Human Settlements Presentation
Ms Glinzler told the Coommittee that stating that Human Settlements and urbanization are leading issues in the development of South Africa, Africa and the developing world. The representative team had the opportunity to learn and implement the outcomes from the previous conferences HABITAT I (1976) and HABITAT II (1996), and now they had the opportunity to prepare and act actively for HABITAT III (2016). Countries were expected to prepare National Reports on the implementation of the Habitat Agenda since 1996; South Africa's Report was prepared by a DHS team in wide consultation with stakeholders, commended and endorsed by Cabinet and submitted in September 2014 to the United Nations.
The HABITAT III conference in October 2016, was to report on existing programs and to agree to a “New Urban Agenda” which will include matters on urbanization, climate change, insecurity, crime and rising informality within cities and human settlements.

Mr Jiyana thanked Ms Glinzler for her briefing and stated that the Preparatory Process for HABITAT III was starting to integrate very well with the agenda for 2016.

Deputy Minister Zou Kota continued with the briefing with some clarifications. She stated that the team was not  part of HABITAT I (1976) and in 1996 the delegation for HABITAT II was lead by the Minister at the time. Right now the DHS had been part of the discussions, but not necessarily in terms of content. DHS was discussing and ensuring it gave a progress report into what it was doing to both Parliament and Government. In 2005, the African Ministerial Council on Housing and Urban Development was established in Durban, and DHS came up with a declaration of the participation of South Africa and the Continent into building houses. This convention helped African Ministers meet frequently; what was missing in this process was Parliament. Members of Parliament across the continent did not participate, but now the Portfolio Committee was having that opportunity.

Ms Glinzler continued with the clarifications, saying that every two years there was a forum in which members of the UN came together to track progress on what was agreed in 1996. The reason for a conference every 20 years, was because the UN needed to settle a forward looking agenda to start implementing. In terms of documentation,the team does a country report in which we include what we are dealing at the moment and what we would like to include. Stated that they will get new issues and proposals into account for the new agenda; from five to six of the most important ones as there has to be flexibility with the initiatives from other countries.

The Chairperson thanked DHS for the clarifications.

Mr H Mmemezi (ANC) brought to the table the issue of migration from rural to urban areas. He said things were usually better in the urban areas than in the rural and that was why people moved. He called for a formal development of the rural areas into secondary cities to help decongest the cities.

The Chairperson replied that the issue had been looked at and taken care of.

Deputy Minister Zou Kota agreed with Mr Mmemezi and added that the DHS partnership with the Department of Rural Development was critical for this specific purpose and that was why they allowed the department to come up with proposals in order to work together and benefit.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister for the clarifications and for the briefing, and asked  the Committee to familiarize itself with the working document.

Adoption of Minutes
The Chairperson called for the adoption of the outstanding minutes from the previous meeting.

The Minutes were approved and adopted without any amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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