UN discusses challenges and opportunities for sustainable future of cities

NEW YORK (CIHAN)- With 6.3 billion people expected to live in urban areas by 2050, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Tuesday (27 May) kicked off a three-day event to look at challenges and opportunities for the sustainable future of cities.

Sustainable urbanization is the focus of the event, which is the first-ever meeting of ECOSOC’s integration segment – a new annual segment on the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

At the opening of the event, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the importance of harnessing the power of urbanization for sustainable development. He said it was “central to achieving three interlinked United Nations priorities for the year 2015 first, to reach the Millennium Development Goals second, to shape an ambitious long term vision for development and third, to adopt a meaningful new global climate agreement.”

He noted plans and policies must consider the people that they affect. This means that urban transport policies should focus on the safety of women, access for the disabled, and meeting the needs of all vulnerable people that efforts to encourage business activity should also promote corporate responsibility and that the capacity of governments should be strengthened to plan, construct and manage urban areas.

UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change Michael Bloomberg, told the meeting that “around the world, cities are centres of educational opportunity, technological innovation, and economic growth” and they are also “crucial to environmental sustainability and they are the keys to confronting the greatest environmental threat facing the world today, and that is climate change”

The former Mayor of New York City, said “cities must adapt to climate risks and do what they can to reduce them”. But, he added, “those actions can bring other benefits as well, because local investments in sustainability also help attract private investment, drive economic growth, improve public health and raise the standard of living.”

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said “urbanization can help reduce poverty sustainably in ways that handouts never can.”

He said “the choice is not whether to urbanize or not, the issue is whether we manage it in such a way that we obtain together with our citizens the maximum benefits possible.”

More than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas today. By 2050, about 70 per cent of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas, and more than 60 per cent of the land projected to become urban by 2030 is yet to be developed. Ninety-five per cent of urban expansion will take place in developing countries.

SHOTLIST:
27 MAY 2014, NEW YORK CITY

Exterior United Nations headquarters
Dais
Delegates
Michael Bloomberg at the podium
Photographers
Delegates
Room

SOUNDBITE (English) Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
“Today we take a step towards harnessing the power of urbanization for sustainable development. This is central to achieving three interlinked United Nations priorities for the year 2015 first, to reach the Millennium Development Goals second, to shape an ambitious long term vision for development and third, to adopt a meaningful new global climate agreement.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Michael Bloomberg, Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change:
“Around the world, cities are centres of educational opportunity, technological innovation, and economic growth. And more than ever, cities are also crucial to environmental sustainability and they are the keys to confronting the greatest environmental threat facing the world today, and that is climate change”

SOUNDBITE (English) Michael Bloomberg, Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change:
“Cities must adapt to climate risks and do what they can to reduce them. But those actions can bring other benefits as well, because local investments in sustainability also help attract private investment, drive economic growth, improve public health and raise the standard of living.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda:
“Urbanization can help reduce poverty sustainably in ways that handouts never can. Growth without planned urbanization in contrast, is a recipe for soaring inequality. Thus, the choice is not whether to urbanize or not, the issue is whether we manage it in such a way that we obtain together with our citizens the maximum benefits possible.”

SOURCE: CIHAN

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