Nairobi, Bopa: Government continually invests in ensuring sustainable housing, social development and environmentally friendly settlements and looks to leverage the goals of the United Nations (UN) Habitat Assembly scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya, this week to further improve the livelihood of Botswana.
This was revealed by the Minister of Transport and Public Works, Eric Molale, in an interview with BOPA ahead of the week long Second Session of the UN-Habitat Assembly scheduled to take place from Monday to Friday this week (June 5 to 9) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Eric Molale said the UN Habitat Assembly, which brings together delegates from UN member states from across the world, would offer Botswana an opportunity to leverage global best practices for sustainable human settlement.
“The UN has some sectoral based institutions, some based in New York, United States of America (USA), some at Geneva, Switzerland, and then we have the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat based here in Africa at Nairobi. UN-Habitat focuses on human settlements, and we will be in a good position to learn and share ideas with others at its assembly this week,” said Molale.
He added that Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, who will lead the Botswana delegation to the summit, to be held under the theme “A Sustainable Urban Future Through Inclusive and Effective Multilateralism,” will champion the Botswana course and use the opportunity to meet important global stakeholders.
“This is quite important since UN-Habitat is due to open a country office in Botswana, joining other UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), who already have a presence in Botswana. They would have experts based in our country to assist in linking our policies to global best practices in sustainable human settlement,” said Molale.
He added that the Housing Pitso held in the country earlier in the year had gathered the views of citizens and stakeholder organisations on how to improve housing, and a national Housing Policy was being finalised by the government.
“In Botswana, we also have the Rural Development Council chaired by the Vice President, which underlines our serious commitment to curbing rural-urban migration. We believe in sustainable rural areas, and the government invests in ensuring farming activities and basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and roads are availed to small villages,” said Molale.
He added that rural development helps in generating food production and in reducing the stress brought about by migration to urban areas, an area of concern for UN-Habitat.
He said the government was also working on ensuring smart, sustainable urban areas, and the assembly in Nairobi would assist in the sharing of information and knowledge from global experts in the field.
With a slant on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals in times of crisis, the UN Habitat Assembly, which convenes every four years, will consider global standards and norms for sustainable human settlement and urbanisation.
Formally called the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat was established in 1977, is headquartered at the UN Place in Nairobi, and is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally friendly towns and adequate shelter for all.
In addition to the Vice President and Molale, the Botswana delegation includes the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Dr Lemogang Kwape, Environment and Tourism Philda Kereng and senior government officials.