World Habitat Day

Message by Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Urban Development, Hon. Shawn Richards

Urban development is the social, cultural, economic and physical development of our cities.

By getting Urban Development right, we can create jobs and offer better livelihoods; increase economic growth; improve social inclusion; promote the advancement of our living standards and reduce both urban and rural poverty.

UN-Habitat is the United Nations division which supports and assists on matters of urban development. The first Monday of every October, UN-Habitat celebrates world habitat day. The theme for this year’s World Habitat Day is Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world.

The future of our planet depends on international, regional and our own local governments and organizations, communities, academic institutions, the private sector and all relevant stakeholders working together to create sustainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive urban centers.

Urban areas are now home to slightly more than half of the world’s seven billion people. This is no different to our local situation, where our urban areas, Basseterre, Sandy Point, Cayon and Charlestown account for over half of our population.

The St Kitts Urban Development Corporation (SKUDC) plays an important and equal part in ensuring that stakeholders work together to create sustainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive urban centers and opportunities for transformational livelihoods.

In 2015, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, in its wisdom, decided to create and promote a new department, The Urban Development Unit (UDU), to set and implement new standards and policies for sustainable urban development, with the intention to help us rethink how we plan, manage and live in our urban centres.

The policies and projects which have been designed and undertaken by the UDU, brings forth a roadmap for communities like Basseterre, Sandy Point and Cayon to serve as engines of prosperity and centres of cultural and social well-being, while protecting our precious environment.

This government is steadfast in its assurance of implementing the policies of the Urban Development Unit, along with technical and financial support and partnerships and assistance from the international community.

The Urban Development Unit is committed to:

Providing basic services for all citizens

Providing Urban Housing Solutions is a key responsibility of the Urban Development Unit; Wellington Road Housing is a prime example of the direction and design for Urban Housing in the Basseterre area.

Safe drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, culture and access to communication technologies, transportation and parking are also areas of importance and concern of Urban Development.

Ensure that all citizens have access to equal opportunities and face no discrimination

Everyone has the right to benefit from what their cities offer. The Urban Development policies take into account the needs of women, youth and children, people with disabilities, marginalized groups, older persons, among other groups.

Promote measures that support a cleaner St. Kitts and Nevis

Tackling pollution in the towns and villages of St. Kitts and Nevis is good both for people’s health and for the country.

The UDU is committed to support the fight to increase the use of renewable energy, provide a better and greener transportation system, and sustainably manage our country’s natural resources, like our forests, ground water reserves, beaches etc.

Strengthen resilience in cities to reduce the risk and the impact of disasters Our country has felt the impact of natural disasters and the UDU has pledged its assistance and has committed to implementing mitigation and adaptation measures to minimize these impacts. Some of these measures include revised and better urban planning, quality infrastructure, like the new island main road and the sidewalk projects and storm water protection along our urban coastline.

Fully respect the rights migrants. The Government has recognized that migration poses challenges but it also brings significant contributions to urban life, as is evident in the Spanish, Jamaican and Haitian communities, established right here in the Basseterre area and beyond. Street and Sidewalk vending has become prevalent and is carried in a major way by migrants. Because of this, the UDU, through plans, policies and projects, have committed to establishing measures that help migrants make positive contributions to our societies.

Improve connectivity and support innovative and green initiatives-The UDU is amenable to establishing partnerships with businesses and civil society to find sustainable solutions to urban challenges, through Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

Promote safe, accessible and green public spaces

Human interaction should be facilitated by urban planning, which is why the Urban Development Unit calls for an increase in public spaces such as sidewalks, gardens, squares and parks.

Independence Square is an ideal example of a green public space, and Urban Development along with other partners will commit to managing and maintaining this important heritage site.

SKUDC continues to look at attracting investors to redefine the landscape of Port Zante by creating and maintaining beautiful Basseterre and providing nontraditional job opportunities for citizens.

The Corporation partners with Tourism Authority, The Ministry of Tourism and The St Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority to ensure a vibrant Tourism product through the development of two cruise ship ports and a tax-free shopping centre.

The potential for SKUDC to create more than 1000 job opportunities in the coming years is at our fingertips with the proposed development on the Eastern side of the facility.

As the SKUDC looks forward to a new Super Yacht facility, a 500 vehicle parking structure, hotels and condominiums, therefore injecting much needed foreign exchange into the economy, a bright future awaits the Corporation, and the citizens of St Kitts and Nevis.

This week, October 4th -8th we will be celebrating Urban Development Week, with planned activities to include radio talk shows and a proposed career day for students in the geography and environmental science fields.

The General public would be exposed to the work of Urban Development and other areas of interest.

The public is also invited to drop in and converse and share ideas with the staff of Urban Development.

I take this opportunity to invite each of you to participate in Urban Development Week, and also to become familiar with the issues and workings of the urban development departments within the federation.

All are encouraged to engage us and join the conversation regarding urban development.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to officially open Urban Development Week.

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