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2012 World Habitat Day Commemorations in Thailand – 7,000 slum dwellers marches to the UN

Bangkok, 01 October 2012

Bangkok World Habitat Day was marked by peaceful marches of two groups to the United Nations building by a total of some 7,000 slum dwellers supported by the National Union of Low Income Community Organizations, Four Regions Slum Network (FRSN), and the Leaders and Organizers of Community Organization in Asia (LOCOA) joined by representatives of the urban and rural poor from a total of ten countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. Groups continued to march to the Government House.

UN representatives read out the messages of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and of UN-Habitat's Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos. "Better planned and better functioning cities can help guide us to the future we want […] we all should urgently commit to work together for integrated, holistic management of the urban environment for the benefit of people and the planet" said UN Secretary-General in his message. Dr. Clos' message stressed: "We should create a new type of city – the city of the 21st century – a smart, people-centred city, one that is capable of integrating the tangible and more intangible aspects of prosperity; a city able to rid itself of the inefficient, unsustainable urban habits of the previous century".

The marchers submitted petitions to the UN Secretary-General on the need for action to make certain that all governments in Asia have pro-poor national housing policies that guarantee that the poor have access to secure land for housing, provide for sufficient budgets to be allocated for housing the poor, and mandate people's participation in disaster mitigation measures which shall not negatively impact the poor.

Marchers condemn evictions in the region and reiterate that "Changing Cities" must not be cities without the urban poor, just as "Building Opportunities" must be based on acceptance of the notion that adequate and secure housing is the cornerstone for a better future for the urban poor.

National Union of Low Income Community Organizations, FRSN and LOCOA submitting petitions and UN ESCAP and UN-Habitat Officials reading statements

In the afternoon, UN-Habitat Bangkok Office, jointly with Openspace and the Wat Kae Nang Lerng Community, supported by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), United Nations Development Programme Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (UNDP APRC), and Silpakorn University invited stakeholders including the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) of the Royal Thai Government to discuss innovative solutions for communities such as Ban Mankong Collective Housing Programme.

The event at the Wat Kae Nang Lerng Community shared experiences in holistic human settlements improvement and promoted partnerships for sustainable housing solutions for the urban poor among stakeholders including government, UN, academia, community, and NGO's.

Discussion held at the Wat Kae Nang Lerng Community among various stakeholders, in an old building that is in the process of reconstruction to serves as a community art and cultural center

Ms. Mariko Sato, Chief of UN-Habitat Office congratulated the Wat Kae Nang Lerng Community for their initiatives and invited all stakeholders to join UN-Habitat's campaign "I'm a City Changer".

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