Address by Mr. Qassem Sultan, Director-General of Dubai Municipality at the Budapest Conference of Mayors and Local Authority Officials, Hungary on September 24, 1999.


Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish, first of all, to express my appreciation of the very warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation by the historic city of Budapest, as well as the conference organizers, and ICCC.

As I indicated in my address to the ICCC Conference in New York last February, it is the declared policy of HH the President of the U.A.E., Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al
Nahayyan to render maximum support to local and international efforts in improving the living environment.

Dubai Municipality, therefore, attaches a great deal of importance to social issues in human settlements development including the serious challenges facing us in the 21stcentury with regard to the huge increases in the elderly population.
The UAE is undergoing a phenomenal surge in economic and human development. Those of us who are closely associated with the direction of our strategic planning and actions are keenly aware that our quest for accelerated development should not unduly affect our centuries old culture and tradition which is based on fundamental values of caring communities especially with regard to the elderly in our society. Thus, for instance, our residential land use policy is firmly rooted in our social policy of continuing to strengthen our extended family system. We have tried to learn the right lessons from the experiences of some industrialized countries where economic progress resulted in a negative impact of social exclusions such as the ostracization of the elderly.

In order to strengthen international collaboration and action on environmental issues, the UAE Government has, under the directive of HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, established, in 1995, the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment which, among other criteria, emphasizes the needs of the elderly.

The main purpose of the Award is to recognize and enhance awareness of best practices that have had outstanding and sustainable achievements in improving the living environment.

Dubai International Award for Best Practices is being operated in partnership with UNCHS and 23 other internationally renowned institutions such as the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Thailand, the Brazilian Institute for Municipal Administration (IBAM), the Centre for Environment & Development in the Arab Region & Europe (CEDARE) in Egypt, University College of London in U.K., Harvard University Graduate School of Design in USA, and the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

The Award comprises U.S.$ 400,000/- of which U.S.$ 300,000/- is distributed to ten award-winning Best Practices as well as U.S.$ 100,000/- for related administrative costs. The selection for the Award is conducted in a rigorous manner on three levels:

1. Validation by a Dubai International Award for Best Practices partner as to whether the proposed best practice fulfills the criteria established in the Submission Guide;

2. An assessment by an international group of technical experts which shortlists up to 50 best practices;

3. The final selection of the ten award-winning best practices by an international jury of eminent personalities.

The first award was granted in June, 1996 in Istanbul, Turkey as part of the Habitat II Conference events in the presence of the then United Nations Secretary-General, Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali.

The second cycle of the Award took place in Dubai and was officiated by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defense of the United Arab Emirates in the presence of Dr. Klaus Topfer, Executive Director of UNEP) and Director-General – UN Office at Nairobi and Head of UNCHS (Habitat)So far, 16 Best Practices from Argentina, Cote d’Ivoire, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Spain, Tanzania and USA have received the award.

It is pleasing to note that although the Award is still young, it has already achieved significant impact of which the following may be cited as examples:

1. Some Best Practices have already become of use to other countries. For example, the SEWA Bank for Women from India has been utilized by Sri Lanka and Canada and the Banana Kelley Community upgrading project in New York has benefited Kenya.

2. The Best Practices data base managed on behalf of partners by the Together Foundation (New York), has over 600 successful best practices that are being accessed internationally through the internet.

The next cycle of the Dubai International Award for Best Practices is scheduled to take place on the World Habitat Day, most probably in New York, on October 2 in the year 2000. Calls for Best Practices submissions for the Award have been forwarded to thousands of addresses throughout the world. The deadline for submission of best practices for the Award has been set for March 31, 2000.

One of the important purposes of our participation in this conference is to express our confidence in the capacity of governments, local authorities, NGO’s, the private sector and civic society in Central and Eastern Europe towards contributing effectively to the improvement of the living environment internationally by disseminating their best practices.

We believe that encouragement by local authorities, of best practices submissions would have positive impact on the improvement of the environmental conditions on the local, regional and international levels. In addition, access to the best practices database, could provide readily available practical information from which cost effective and valuable lessons could be obtained.

We, therefore, wish to welcome your support for a more active participation by your region in the Dubai International Award for Best Practices by enhancing the number of best practices submissions for the Award as well as by nominating suitable institutions to be associated with us as partners or affiliates.

Finally, we wish also to express our best wishes that an award-winning best practice or best practices will emerge from your region as an indicator of your achievement of an environmentally sound development performance.

Thank you.

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