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Brussels, 16 February 2006

European Commission signs agreement on promoting sustainable towns with UN-HABITAT

The European Commission has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UN-HABITAT to develop the research relationship between the two organisations. UN-HABITAT is the UN’s human settlement programme and the new agreement will help researchers to address issues such as urban planning and governance, housing, water management, sanitation and land use. The results of these joint research efforts will be made available to experts and policy-makers working in related fields.

European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik said: “There is strong potential for research to help resolve urban challenges. It can help find innovative and durable solutions. With this Memorandum of Understanding, the EU and UN-HABITAT will be able to expand on past achievements while addressing future opportunities and challenges.”

By 2050, 6 billion people will be living in cities around the world. Currently, almost 80% of the EU’s population live in cities, and sustainable development is considered as one of the major challenges. The EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy signals the need for local authorities to reconcile the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of the towns we live in. The Millennium Declaration of the United Nations has also recognised the need to combat social deprivation and assist the world’s urban poor. UN-HABITAT is involved in providing adequate shelter for all and aims to improve the living conditions of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.

From mid-2006 onwards, policy-makers and scientists will be able to access research results and implement policy recommendations on urban sustainability through a database of more than 250 projects financed by the EU’s Research Framework Programme and UN-HABITAT. Co-operation between the two organisations will start, with a project that will provide new knowledge in the area of urban environmental research and the identification of good practice.
For more information on the European Commission’s Environment research programme:
For more information on UN-HABITAT:

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