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, 14 Jul 03
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka told the high-level segment of this year’s annual session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that there had to be better coordination against the twin problems of rural and urban poverty and under-development in developing countries.

The main theme at this year’s ECOSOC’s meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, is integrated rural development. It aims to adopt a Ministerial Declaration to provide policy guidance and make recommendations for action. The theme coincides with UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council’s resolution adopted in May 2003, which seeks to underscore the direct relationship between positive rural-urban development linkages and sustainable urbanization.

To promote sustainable development, rural areas need to grow in parallel with urban areas. Linkages between rural and urban areas include inter-zone transport, communication and trade between the two zones.

Mrs. Tibaijuka, co-chaired a ministerial round table meeting with Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic, the outgoing ECOSOC president. The recommendations from the round table carried were reflected in paragraph 20 of the ministerial declaration. It says:

“To promote linkages by developing and strengthening a system of intermediate-size secondary and tertiary towns to stimulate rural development, as well as to minimize the negative impacts of rural-urban migration. At the same time, we will encourage programmes and policies designed to strengthen rural service centres and small town systems, including strengthening institutions and mechanisms for local and regional planning.”

ECOSOC, which coordinates the work of over 20 UN agencies and commissions, holds its four-week substantive session in July each year, alternating between New York and Geneva. The session includes a high-level segment, at which government ministers, international agency chiefs and other high officials focus on a selected theme of global significance.

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