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As the world's population reaches 6 billion 3 billion will live in towns and cities

Nairobi, 12 October 1999 - "As the world celebrates the birth of the 6 billionth baby in Sarajevo, it is important to remember that this baby shares his birthday with thousands of other children many of whom were born at the same time in a slum or squatter settlement to families without adequate shelter or basic services," said Mr. Klaus Toepfer in his opening speech today at the Third Meeting of the International Forum on Urban Poverty, (IFUP) in Nairobi.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, when only one in ten people lived in towns, the world's population was primarily rural. Today, on the threshold of the new millennium, almost three billion people, half of humanity, live in towns and cities. The result of this rapid increase in the urban population is that, of the estimated 1.5 billion poor, most are now concentrated in slums and squatter settlements.

The urbanisation of poverty and its eradication is one of the central themes of the IFUP conference on "Social Integration and Security for the Urban Poor: Towards Cities for All". The aim of the conference is to call together representatives of governments, local authorities, NGOs, international aid agencies and experts from all over the world to discuss recent developments on how best to reduce urban poverty.

As part of its efforts to combat poverty and to make a tangible change in the quality of urban life, UNCHS (Habitat) is building on its years of experience to launch two global campaigns which have been approved in May 1999 by the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements. The Global Campaign for Security of Tenure will address one of the most fundamental requirements for sustainable urban and shelter development, while the Global Campaign on Urban Governance will promote the normative goals of local democracy, equity, efficiency, security and decentralisation.

The conference participants will address four main topics: Informal Cities and Security of Tenure; Urban Safety for the Poor and Crime Prevention; the Utilisation of Transport Systems by all segments of society; and Urban Children and Youth in Poverty.

At the opening ceremony, Mr. Toepfer challenged the participants to find new ways of eradicating urban poverty in order to build more equitable communities. He concluded by saying, "The future of 3 billion people rests on how we manage our cities and on the social integration of the poor."

For further information please, contact:
Press & Media Unit,
UNCHS (Habitat);
Tel: 254-2-623153
Fax; 254-2-624060;

Zahra A. Hassan
Media Liaison
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)
P.O.Box 30030
Tel: 254-2-623151
Fax: 254-2-624060

Tuesday 12 Oct 1999
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