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A - Progress report

298. The Governing Council considered agenda item 9 (a) at its 70th and 71st meetings, on 17 and 18 May 1977. The Council had before it the report of the Executive Director on progress made in the implementation of the plan and programme of operations of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation

(UNEP/GC/93).

299. The Executive Director, in a brief introductory statement, reviewed developments which had occurred since the preparation of the progress report, noting in particular that the Foundation had received requests or substantive inquiries from 37 countries, and that the Advisory Board had held its second formal meeting and discussed the items referred to in paragraph 47 of the Executive Director's report (UNEP/GC/93).

300. Several delegations noted with satisfaction that, despite the prevailing uncertainty regarding institutional arrangements, the Foundation had substantially developed a programme of activities in line with its mandate. One delegation considered that the report not only reflected a commitment to certain important activities and a desirable concern for the evolution of a viable future policy, but also emphasized the need for relevant institution building and testified to the determination of the secretariat to work under debilitating constraints. Nevertheless, the report implied a degree of wasteful under-co-ordination, since it gave little indication that the programme activities in one region influenced developments elsewhere. Overhead and administrative costs still seemed too high in relation to programme expenditure, and the report failed to state what action had been taken on the suggestion that expertise should be drawn from the broadest possible range of sources.

301. Several delegations expressed appreciation for the Foundation's response to requests for advice and assistance, its attempt to extend its co-operation beyond the United Nations system and strengthen co-operation with relevant non-governmental organizations, and its active involvement at the national and regional levels. A number of delegations noted with satisfaction that the Foundation expected to play an important role in establishing and strengthening financial institutions at the regional and subregional levels, and welcomed the proposals aimed at providing all possible support to the regional commissions in the strengthening of regional co-operation in the field of human settlements. One delegation expressed particular interest in the joint programming exercises being undertaken by the Foundation in collaboration with other United Nations agencies and suggested that sustained links should be established with those agencies. Another delegation felt that the Council might wish to be more fully appraised of the content and nature of discussions held with other bodies.

302. In the context of policies and guidelines for the Foundation's operations, one delegation suggested that the social and cultural aspects of human settlements should receive high priority. Other delegations said that special importance should be given to the training of human settlements managers, as part of the Foundation's technical assistance operations, and one noted that activities in that sector could provide opportunities to utilize non-convertible currencies. Another delegation stressed the need for greater development of national expertise and called for short-term post-graduate courses, as well as longer-term undergraduate training, in environmental and human settlements fields. The present financial support for seminars on human settlements problems should be maintained and supplemented by fellowships for students from developing countries. Logistic support should also be given to town-planning institutions and similar institutions in developing countries.

303. One delegation suggested that, in implementing study projects, the Foundation should mobilize international finance agencies to provide subsequent financial assistance to the Governments concerned. However, pilot projects aimed at bringing about concrete improvements in housing conditions should be accorded higher priority than study projects. Noting the importance of the seed-capital aspect, another delegation suggested that the developed countries might be in a position to provide such capital and appropriate mechanisms, and stressed the need for the Foundation, in expediting financial assistance to Governments and institutions, to draw increasingly upon a broad spectrum of sources other than its own resources.

304. Several delegations expressed concern about the financial position of the Foundation and called for fuller material support. One delegation stated that, irrespective of the institutional arrangements eventually decided, the Foundation should be appropriately strengthened so that it might achieve the full potential envisaged for it by the General Assembly. The representative of Malaysia announced that his Government would contribute $US 5,000 to the Foundation. The representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya said that his Government was giving serious consideration to the question of a contribution to the Foundation. The representative of Belgium said that his Government hoped to be in a position to make a financial contribution in the future.

305. Some delegations felt that to set a target for voluntary contributions to the Foundation now would be premature; one said that, although it fully expected the Foundation to play a major role in the follow-up to Habitat, it questioned the advisability, in the present fluid state of events, of setting a target and calling for a pledging conference. Another delegation took the view that for the Governing Council to set a target at the present juncture would be to pre-empt the outcome of the General Assembly's consideration of the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Restructuring of the Economic and Social Sectors of the United Nations System and the recommendations of the Economic and Social Council.

306. Several delegations shared the views of the Executive Director regarding the Foundation's difficulty in projecting its programme of activities beyond 1977 in the absence of a clear indication of the level of financial resources likely to be available, and supported the proposal regarding the establishment of a minimum target of $50 million for total voluntary contributions by Governments to the Foundation for the years 1978-1981.

307. Responding to points raised during the debate, the Executive Director reiterated his appeal to Governments to give financial support to the Foundation, stressed that its mandate had already been established in General Assembly resolution 3327 (XXIX) and outlined the salient features of the second formal meeting of the Advisory Board.

Action by the Governing council

308. At its 75th meeting, on 25 May 1977, the Governing Council adopted by consensus draft decisions on policies and resources of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, submitted by the delegations of Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, the Sudan, Thailand, Uganda and Zaire, and on support by the Foundation for regional action programmes on human settlements, submitted by the same delegations, less Liberia and with the addition of the Congo, Gabon, Japan, Mexico and Tunisia (decisions 92 (V) and 93 (V)). 26/