• Facebook
  • Youtube
  • RSS Feed

In Balkans, UN-led initiative aims to improve industrial safety inspections

Microsoft VBScript compilation error ‘800a03f9’

Expected ‘Then’

/apps/news/en/includes/_header.asp, line 600

IF Request.Querystring("InfocusID") IN (69, 82, 110, 116, 122, 126, 133, 136, 137, 139, 140, 142) THEN
------------------------------------^

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43349&Cr=environment&Cr1=

Back to Top

UN-led biodiversity plan aims to expand economy while protecting endangered species

Print

18 October 2012 – Launched today by the United Nations development agency, an ambitious new global strategy to combat unprecedented levels of biodiversity loss calls for “significant” increases in biodiversity investments in 100 countries – while at the same time aiming to foster economic growth and create jobs in addition to protecting endangered species and habitats.

Entitled ‘The Future We Want: Biodiversity and Ecosystems – Driving Sustainable Development,’ the strategy will see the UN Development Programme (UNDP) work with national governments to protect biodiversity and manage ecosystems across 1.4 billion hectares of land and bodies of water, the agency said in a news release.

UNDP said it will also help governments find new ways to finance biodiversity management through “domestic revenue, innovative financial mechanisms, and donor funding from a range of sources.”

“Human survival depends heavily on biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, yet in recent decades, the world has experienced unprecedented biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, undermining the very foundations of life on earth,” said UNDP’s Associate Administrator, Rebeca Grynspan. “As 1.2 billion people living in severe poverty depend directly on nature for their basic needs and livelihoods, this needs urgent international attention.”

UNDP unveiled the strategy at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB COP 11), taking place in Indian city of Hyderabad. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force in 1993 and calls for conserving biological diversity, ensuring its sustainable use, and ensuring that benefits arising from any use are fairly distributed.

The Conference adopted the new strategy, which UNDP said is designed to help countries integrate biodiversity management with development planning, enable protected areas to contribute to sustainable development, and ensure that management and rehabilitation of ecosystems mitigate the effects of climate change.

“The launch of UNDP’s new Framework is very timely,” said CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias.

“I believe it will be vital in guiding UNDP’s support to countries to speed up implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets,” he noted, in reference to 20 biodiversity conservation goals set by the 10th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan, for achieving by 2020.

“We have a window of opportunity between now and 2020 to help countries shift the course of development to maintain and enhance their natural capital, and UNDP’s work will be crucial in this regard,” Mr. Dias added.

UNDP already manages the largest portfolio of biodiversity and ecosystems work in the UN system, overseeing 512 projects costing $5 billion in 146 countries.

Some of that money is provided through CBD’s main financing channel, the Global Environment Facility, which partners 182 countries with public and private entities to address global environmental issues, and which UNDP said it will seek as a source to help governments fund projects in the new strategy.

“The funding will be used for projects that foster economic growth, create jobs, protect endangered species and habitats, and help build resilient communities that maintain natural areas for agricultural support and as a buffer against natural disasters such as droughts and floods,” UNDP said in the news release.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43327&Cr=biodiversity&Cr1=

Back to Top

Faster progress needed on targets to protect world’s key nature sites, says UN environment report

Print

18 October 2012 – Despite the growing number of nature reserves, national parks and other protected areas around the world, half of the globe’s richest biodiversity zones remain entirely unprotected, according to a United Nations report presented today.

Amongst the report’s other main findings are that protected areas are being managed in a more equitable way, with a greater role for indigenous communities – but current investment in protected areas is only around half of what is needed to support endangered species, protect threatened habitats and deliver the full benefits that sustainably-managed protected areas can deliver.

“Protected areas contain some 15 per cent of the world’s carbon stock and support the livelihoods of over one billion people, making them a crucial factor in supporting biodiversity, ecosystem services and human livelihoods,” said the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, in a news release on the report.

Produced by the UNEP’s World Conversation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the study – Protected Planet Report 2012: Tracking progress towards global targets for protected areas – tracks progress towards internationally-agreed targets on the world’s protected areas. It is the first in an annual series that will monitor global efforts to support and expand protected areas.

The report was presented at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB COP 11), taking place in Indian city of Hyderabad, at which, according to UNEP, it received the official backing of countries as a major contribution towards tracking progress on global efforts to increase protected areas.

The Conference of the Parties is the governing body of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and advances implementation of the Convention through the decisions it takes at its periodic meetings such as the one taking place in India.

“This new report provides not only the fact and figures required by decision-makers, but outlines ways to overcome fundamental challenges in the management of protected areas,” added Mr. Steiner. “It highlights the key actions required to meet international goals, and to harness the multiple economic and environmental benefits that sustainably managed protected areas can provide.”

Two years ago, countries set a goal under the CBD that by 2020, at least 17 per cent of the world’s terrestrial areas and 10 per cent of marine areas would be equitably managed and conserved.

The Protected Planet Report 2012 says that protected areas have increased in number by almost 60 per cent, and in area by just under 50 per cent, since 1990. But, it states, poor management, under-funding and a lack of critical data on protected areas mean that the world is making insufficient progress towards the 2020 goals.

According to the most recent figures, just over 12 per cent of the world’s terrestrial areas are thought to be protected today.

To meet the CBD target of 17 per cent, an additional six million square kilometres of land and inland waters would have to be recognized as protected by world Governments – an area more than twice the size of Argentina.

Marine protected areas are lagging even further behind, according to the report. Around 1.6 per cent of the global ocean area is protected, mostly in near-coastal areas.

To meet the CBD target of 10 per cent, an additional eight million square kilometres of marine and coastal areas would need to be recognized as protected – an area just over the size of Australia. However, the UNEP study states that the number of very large marine protected areas has grown significantly in recent years.

Today, there are over 13 marine protected areas, each with an area greater than 100,000 square kilometres. Overall, marine protected area coverage has increased by over 150 per cent since 2003.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43321&Cr=environment&Cr1=

Back to Top

Policies to protect wetlands necessary for sustainable economies – UN

Print

16 October 2012 – Governments must recognize the vital economic and environmental role that wetlands play in supporting human life and biodiversity, according to a United Nations-backed report released today, which also stresses that their protection is essential for countries to transition into resource-efficient and sustainable economies.

“Policies and decisions often do not take into account the many services that wetlands provide – thus leading to the rapid degradation and loss of wetlands globally,” the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, said in a news release on the report, entitled ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands.’

“There is an urgent need to put wetlands and water-related ecosystem services at the heart of water management in order to meet the social, economic and environmental needs of a global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050,” he added.

Half of the world’s wetlands were lost during the twentieth century – due mainly to factors such as intensive agricultural production, unsustainable water extraction for domestic and industrial use, urbanization, infrastructure development and pollution, according to UNEP. The continuing degradation of wetlands is resulting in significant economic burdens on communities, countries and businesses.

The report was produced by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a UNEP-hosted initiative that seeks to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity, drawing together expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy to enable practical actions moving forward.

The report provides a series of recommendations that would slow and ultimately halt the degradation of wetlands. These include: integrating the wetlands into national decision-making processes, ensuring that wetland services are fully considered as solutions for land and water management, committing to protect biodiversity in this ecosystem, and ensuring the participation of communities, including indigenous peoples, on managing solutions for the wetlands. It also encourages businesses to assess the risks of their operations in the wetlands as well as their dependency on this valuable resource.

At a global level, the report says there is a need to ensure that the role and value of water and wetlands are integrated into implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), among other international agreements.

The Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental initiative on the wetlands, also contributed to the development of the report which received financial support from the Norwegian, Swiss and Finnish Governments. Other organizations that contributed the report include the Institute for European Environmental Policy, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Wetlands International, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43300&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=

Back to Top

On International Day for Disaster Reduction, UN highlights key role of women and girls

Print

Email

12 October 2012 – Marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction, United Nations officials have called for women and girls to be at the forefront of reducing risk and managing the world’s response to natural hazards.

“Across the world, women and girls are using their roles within families and communities to strengthen risk reduction,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the Day, which falls on 13 October.

The General Assembly designated 13 October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction in 2009, replacing an earlier version of the Day. Its objective is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.

The theme of for this year’s Day is ‘Women and Girls: the [in]Visible Force of Resilience‘ – an estimated 200 million young people are affected by reported disasters each year and thousands of them are killed and injured.

In his message, Mr. Ban stressed that women’s leadership in this area is increasingly valuable as climate change intensifies and the world struggles to cope with extreme weather.

“In Bangladesh, women organized themselves to prepare for and respond to floods by teaching other women how to build portable clay ovens and elevate houses,” Mr. Ban said. “In South Africa, marginalized adolescent girls have been empowered to help design plans to reduce the impact of drought and severe wind storms.”

The Secretary-General also noted that women and girls are a force of resilience and that encouraging them to take on leadership roles on disaster risk reduction will benefit entire communities.

“The best disaster recovery programmes in the world involve women who have survived such events. If we are to build true disaster resilience we need to put the emphasis on their greater involvement before disasters strike,” said Margareta Wahlström, the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the part of the UN responsible for the issue, as well as the secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Ms. Wahlström added that women’s efforts to build resilience to disasters often go unrecognized, and the Day would help raise awareness of their key role in communities where they are many times in charge of decisions such as securing food, water and energy.

In her message for the Day, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, emphasized that women are “disproportionately affected by disasters because of social roles, discrimination and poverty,” and recalled that a gender perspective had been integrated into the design and implementation of all disaster reduction policy in the “Rio+20 Outcome Document” of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this year.

“Discrimination is a violation of human rights – it is also bad policy,” she said, adding that women should not be discriminated and instead must be “powerful agents of change,” to ensure a sustainable future.

“This is why we are committed to empowering girls and women through education – to allow them to take charge of their lives and those of their families and communities,” Ms. Bokova said. “Women must participate fully in planning and implementing all disaster risk reduction measures.”

To this end, UNESCO’s Global Partnership on Women and Girls’ Education has been training young women in disaster-prone countries such as Haiti, Myanmar, Pakistan and Indonesia on how to reduce their vulnerability to disasters and increase their resilience, the cultural agency’s chief added.

A wide range of events are taking place around the world this week to mark the Day, including tsunami drills in Myanmar, a workshop on gender-based violence in Vanuatu, community work in Rwanda, a poster and essay contest in the Philippines, a panel discussion at George Washington University in the United States, an education seminar in Nicaragua, and a seismic risk discussion in Greece, among others.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43282&Cr=disaster&Cr1=

Back to Top

For International Day for Disaster Reduction, UN highlights key role of women and girls

Print

Email

12 October 2012 – Marking the International Day for Disaster Reduction, United Nations officials have called for women and girls to be at the forefront of reducing risk and managing the world’s response to natural hazards.

“Across the world, women and girls are using their roles within families and communities to strengthen risk reduction,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the Day, which falls on 13 October.

The General Assembly designated 13 October as the International Day for Disaster Reduction in 2009, replacing an earlier version of the Day. Its objective is to raise awareness of how people are taking action to reduce their risk to disasters.

The theme of for this year’s Day is ‘Women and Girls: the [in]Visible Force of Resilience’ – an estimated 200 million young people are affected by reported disasters each year and thousands of them are killed and injured.

In his message, Mr. Ban stressed that women’s leadership in this area is increasingly valuable as climate change intensifies and the world struggles to cope with extreme weather.

“In Bangladesh, women organized themselves to prepare for and respond to floods by teaching other women how to build portable clay ovens and elevate houses,” Mr. Ban said. “In South Africa, marginalized adolescent girls have been empowered to help design plans to reduce the impact of drought and severe wind storms.”

The Secretary-General also noted that women and girls are a force of resilience and that encouraging them to take on leadership roles on disaster risk reduction will benefit entire communities.

“The best disaster recovery programmes in the world involve women who have survived such events. If we are to build true disaster resilience we need to put the emphasis on their greater involvement before disasters strike,” said Margareta Wahlström, the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the part of the UN responsible for the issue, as well as the secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Ms. Wahlström added that women’s efforts to build resilience to disasters often go unrecognized, and the Day would help raise awareness of their key role in communities where they are many times in charge of decisions such as securing food, water and energy.

In her message for the Day, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, emphasized that women are “disproportionately affected by disasters because of social roles, discrimination and poverty,” and recalled that a gender perspective had been integrated into the design and implementation of all disaster reduction policy in the “Rio+20 Outcome Document” of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this year.

“Discrimination is a violation of human rights – it is also bad policy,” she said, adding that women should not be discriminated and instead must be “powerful agents of change,” to ensure a sustainable future.

“This is why we are committed to empowering girls and women through education – to allow them to take charge of their lives and those of their families and communities,” Ms. Bokova said. “Women must participate fully in planning and implementing all disaster risk reduction measures.”

To this end, UNESCO’s Global Partnership on Women and Girls’ Education has been training young women in disaster-prone countries such as Haiti, Myanmar, Pakistan and Indonesia on how to reduce their vulnerability to disasters and increase their resilience, the cultural agency’s chief added.

A wide range of events are taking place around the world this week to mark the Day, including tsunami drills in Myanmar, a workshop on gender-based violence in Vanuatu, community work in Rwanda, a poster and essay contest in the Philippines, a panel discussion at George Washington University in the United States, an education seminar in Nicaragua, and a seismic risk discussion in Greece, among others.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43282&Cr=disaster&Cr1=

Back to Top

UN environmental agency to help Afghanistan combat effects of climate change

Print

Email

11 October 2012 – The United Nations is to help Afghanistan combat the effects of climate change, teaming up with the country’s Government to implement a $6 million initiative that aims to operate in vulnerable communities and shore up the ability of Afghan institutions to independently address risks posed by changes to the climate, the world body’s environmental agency announced today.

The scheme is the first of its kind in the landlocked country, where four-fifths of the population is directly dependent on natural resources for income and sustenance, but where disasters and extreme weather events – including drought, sandstorms, and harsh winters – have affected more than 6.7 million people since 1998.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which will serve as the lead UN agency involved in the initiative, identified Afghanistan as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change because of the potential impacts and the Afghan Government’s current limited capacity to react to those impacts.

The initiative’s interventions will include improved water management and use efficiency; community-based watershed management; improved terracing, agro-forestry and agro-silvo pastoral systems; climate-related research and early warning systems; improved food security; and rangeland management.

Watershed management activities at village level will include tree-planting, the terracing of slopes or the gathering of wild seeds to re-plant over-grazed mountainsides. Education and the development of vocational skills for the communities will also play a key role in this project, according to UNEP.

The Afghan Government will serve as a partner through the country’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), UNEP said in a news release, with most of the funding coming from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a UN-backed entity that unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.

“The Government of Afghanistan is showing a remarkable commitment to working with communities for a landscape approach to dealing with climate change in the country,” said the UN Afghanistan Resident Coordinator, Michael Keating, speaking from Bamyan in Afghanistan’s Central Highlands, some 200 kilometres west of the capital, Kabul.

“We also welcome the opportunity to help Afghan institutions better deal with shocks and hazards, and increase resilience at a decentralized level,” he added.

During severe droughts from 1998 to 2006, and again in 2008-2009, the country suffered significant losses of crops, including wheat, rice, maize and potato. According to UNEP, climate change is predicted to cause an increase in mean annual temperatures, a decrease in mean annual rainfall, and an increase in the intensity of rainfalls – despite an overall decrease in precipitation.

“Many of the agricultural activities in Afghanistan are dependent on the flow of rivers that originate in the Central Highlands area,” UNEP stated. “However, natural ecosystems throughout the country are very fragile, and the degrading effects of increasing human activity in many areas are worsened by current climatic variability, mainly frequent droughts and extreme weather-induced floods and erosion.”

The initiative will be implemented in four locations: Badakhshan in the northeast, Balkh in the north, through the Koh-e Baba to Bamyan and Daikundi in the Central Highlands.

Climate change adaptation is especially important in developing nations, since those countries are “predicted to bear the brunt of climate change effects,” UNEP said in the news release, noting that “the overarching goal is to reduce the vulnerability of biological systems to these impacts.”

UNEP’s key partners on the ground in the Central Asian nation include the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) supported by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), working together with the USAID-funded Biodiversity Programme of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and local Afghan organizations and communities.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43268&Cr=afghan&Cr1=

Back to Top

South Africa’s carbon footprint during World Cup year lower than projected

Print

Email

10 October 2012 – South Africa’s carbon footprint for 2010, the year it hosted the football World Cup, was lower than previously expected, says a new United Nations report, which highlights the successes and lessons that other countries must learn to ensure the sustainability of major international sporting events.

The report, produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), shows that South Africa’s 2010 carbon footprint was 1.65 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, just 60 per cent of the figure that had been initially projected. This was partly due to fewer visitors than expected, carpooling and park and ride schemes, cutting energy use by 30 per cent, and using solar-powered technology and renewable energy.

The South African Government and UNEP also worked on a project to promote initiatives that would cut the tournament’s carbon footprint such as reducing waste and water use and enhancing biodiversity. In a news release, UNEP said such initiatives must be advanced in Brazil, which will be the host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Other successful measures taken during the 2010 World Cup highlighted in the report, which was released on Tuesday, include the improvement of South Africa’s transportation system, which included a rapid bus network, cycling paths, and walkways in major sites, the reuse of demolition waste, energy efficient lighting and reducing water waste in various stadiums.

While there were successful initiatives, UNEP said that there were many lessons learned in terms of implementing sustainability measures.

“The report points to many great initiatives, but perhaps the most important finding is that South Africa could have achieved more if sustainability measures had been brought in sooner rather than later,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Indeed, it underlines that achieving the full potential of greening such tournaments is likely if sustainability is factored into the planning, design and construction from the word go.”

Earlier this week, UNEP officials met with representatives from the Brazilian Government, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Olympic Committee to consider concrete steps to green the two major sporting events.

In its report, UNEP calls on FIFA to help raise awareness of the World Cup’s environmental impact by offsetting its own carbon footprint and encouraging its partners to do the same. UNEP has also signed an agreement with the Brazilian Government to help green both the World Cup and the Summer Olympics, carrying on an advisory role with the Olympic Games that began in 2004.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43251&Cr=sport&Cr1=

Back to Top

New protections sought for polar bear, elephants, manta rays and other species under UN-backed treaty

Print

Email

5 October 2012 – Several dozen species – ranging from elephants, polar bears, sharks and manta rays to medicinal plants and rare trees – will receive additional protection under a United Nations-backed treaty for the conservation of endangered species if new proposals are adopted at a world wildlife meeting next March.

More than 50 countries submitted 67 proposals for consideration under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by the 4 October midnight deadline, and these will now be discussed at a meeting of treaty parties in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March, coinciding with its 40th anniversary.

“CITES is where the rubber ‘hits the road’ and the outcome of our world wildlife conference in 2013 will be of great significance to the future of many species of plants and animals,” said John E. Scanlon, the Secretary-General of the Convention, the secretariat of which is administered by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) in Geneva.

With 176 Member States, CITES is one of the world’s most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation, regulating international trade in close to 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment.

The new proposals would grant additional protection to some species, grant initial protection to others and, in some cases, lessen protection for yet others.

For example, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Togo are calling for an extension of the ban on the trade in elephant ivory, while Tanzania wants elephant hunting to be legalized within its borders for non-commercial purposes saying its elephant population was no longer endangered.

The United States is seeking to have the polar bear transferred from CITES Appendix Two – under which trade in species not necessarily threatened with extinction must be controlled to avoid uses incompatible with their survival – to Appendix One, under which trade is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

The US is seeking similar action on Burmese star tortoises, big-headed turtles and Roti Island snake-necked turtles, while Vietnam wants a similar transfer for the Indochinese box turtle and Annam leaf turtle. Ecuador wants to include the manta ray and the Machalilla poison dart frog in Appendix Two, and transfer its vicuña from Appendix One to Appendix Two.

Madagascar, Kenya and Mexico, meanwhile, are seeking to include various trees, medicinal and ornamental plants in Appendix Two, while News Zealand wants similar protection for the New Zealand green gecko. Brazil, Comoros, Egypt and the European Union are seeking to include the porbeagle shark in Appendix Two.

On the other hand, New Zealand wants to delete the white-faced owl from Appendix Two, and Australia is seeking to delete the dusky flying-fox from Appendix Two while removing the buff-nosed rat-kangaroo and the pig-footed bandicoot from Appendix One.

At the March meeting, Member States will also consider how CITES can further enhance efforts to combat overall illegal trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn as well Asian big cats and great apes.

They are also expected to discuss the potential impact of CITES measures on the livelihoods of the rural poor who are often on the frontlines of using and managing wildlife.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43222&Cr=environment&Cr1=

Back to Top

Achieving sustainable, inclusive cities requires better planning

Print

Email

1 October 2012 – Top United Nations officials have underscored the need to better plan the world’s urban areas, where half of the global population currently resides, to turn the ideal of sustainable and inclusive cities into reality.

“In little more than a generation, two thirds of the global population will be urban. As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment grows, so too does the need to strengthen the urban focus of our efforts to reduce global poverty and promote sustainable development,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In his message for World Habitat Day, observed annually on the first Monday of October, Mr. Ban noted that better planned and better functioning cities can help ensure that everyone who lives there has adequate shelter, water, sanitation, health and other basic services.

They can also promote good education and job prospects, energy-efficient buildings and public transport systems, and a feeling of inclusiveness for their inhabitants, he said.

“Good practices of managing urban development exist in all regions – and we can learn from the examples they provide,” said Mr. Ban. “But we are a long way from turning the ideal of sustainable, inclusive cities into reality.”

According to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the main challenges confronting cities and towns all over the world today include unemployment, especially among youth; social and economic inequalities; and unsustainable energy consumption patterns.

Urban areas are also responsible for most of the world’s waste and pollution, and many are particularly vulnerable to disasters, including the growing risks associated with climate change.

In addition, while the Millennium Development Goal (MDG ) target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers has been achieved 10 years in advance of the 2020 deadline, absolute numbers continue to grow. Nearly a quarter of urban residents – more than 850 million people – live in slums or informal settlements.

“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,” said Joan Clos, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, in his message for the Day.

“It is time for changing our cities and for building new opportunities,” he stated.

“Opportunities for whom?” asked the UN Special Rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, noting that the current model of housing policies worldwide increasingly focuses on housing finance – to the detriment of realizing the right to adequate housing for the poor.

“Credit for housing ownership is not a ‘one-size-fit-all’ solution,” she warned in a news release issued on the occasion of the Day. “The ongoing worldwide housing crisis, in which millions of vacant houses and apartments coincide with an alarming rise in foreclosures and homelessness, is the starkest evidence of the failure of housing finance to address the housing needs of all segments of society.”

She called for a shift from housing policies based on the “financialization” of housing to a human rights-based approach to housing policies, which can foster real opportunities for all.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43167&Cr=urban&Cr1=

Back to Top

Corporate Office: 364 Summit Avenue, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601
Phone: 201-489-0419 | Fax: 201-488-2025

For Product & Project Inquiries: Guy Condorelli, VP Business Development
Phone: 201-489-0419 Ext. 2