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Sustainable Urbanization Key to Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, 4 September 2002: -- At the World Summit, UN-HABITAT, Mayors, representatives of local authorities, donor agencies, non-governmental organizations and other Habitat Agenda Partners called for sustainable urbanization. This message was also tabled at the Plenary Session of WSSD by Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT. At a major parallel event, the Coalition on Sustainable Urbanization, a cross section of partners made presentations that tabled the issues and opportunities of urbanization. At the same occasion, UN-HABITAT launched a number of publications including a joint paper with the UK Government, Department for International Development (DFID) on "Sustainable Urbanization" and "Partnership Commitments for Implementing Agenda 21" and a book "Sustainable Urbanization: Bridging the Green and Brown Agendas."

In her presentation to the plenary session, Mrs. Tibaijuka, stated that "Urbanization and globalization were dominant trends that were changing the parameters of sustainable development and that the impact of these two trends means that increasingly, Agenda 21 will become an urban agenda." She went on to state that as three fifths of the world's population was soon to live in urban areas, there was an urgent need to fundamentally change the way cities functioned, the way they made decisions, allocated resources and established institutions. This is why UN-HABITAT had focused on "Sustainable Urbanization" as its key contribution to the WSSD process.

Sustainable Urbanization had a normative dimension corresponding to the "type 1" outcome which recognizes that sustainable development is contingent upon effective partnership with diverse stakeholders. It also has an operational dimension, corresponding to the "type 2" outcome as over 20 partners have come together to launch the Coalition.

The Coalition on Sustainable Urbanization was launched during the first week of WSSD at a half-day meeting, attended by over 200 delegates from all over the world, who were welcomed by Mrs. Tibaijuka. The keynote address was made by Hon. Mrs. S.D. Mthembi-Mahanyele, Minister for Housing, South Africa, followed by an address by the chair of the meeting, Cllr. Alan Lloyd, President of IULA and Chairman of WACLAC which stressed the critical role of local authorities in implementing Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda.

The meeting was also addressed by eleven presenters who made short interventions on the eleven "Partnership Implementation Commitments" that are based on commitments made by the members of the Coalition. Presenters included M. Bresso, President of United Towns Organization, B.Kante of UNEP, J. Smith, of IULA, C. Piquemal of Metropolis, E. Agevi of ITDG, H. Wessels from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Worship, G. Collomb, Mayor of Lyon, D. Heron, of Vivendi Environment, P. Gopalan of the Huairou Commission, Hon. Y. Barimah, the Ghanian Minister for Water Dev., A. Vawda, South Africa, and N. Mthembu, AMICAAL, Swaziland.

The presenters stressed the need for real and committed partnerships to ensure effective implementation of Agenda 21. After much discussion and contributions, the session concluded by calling for the general recognition that there can be no sustainable development without sustainable urbanization. This includes understanding the nature of demographic shifts and rural to urban migration patterns. There was also an urgent need to understand how best to plan for integrated regional development that supports the development of small towns.

Delegates emphasized that successful implementation of Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda required capacity building and coordinated action between all the partners and stakeholders. Such partnerships were considered a powerful unifying framework for diverse initiatives; building interrelationships and promoting synergies, and strengthening individual and collective efficiency. In conclusion, Mrs. Tibaijuka thanked the Chair and the organizers, and the delegates for their interest and commitment, stressing UN-HABITAT's continued support to promoting and further developing partnerships for sustainable urbanization including help mobilizing new partners.

For further information, please contact: Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson, or Zahra Hassan, Media Liaison, Press & Media Relations Unit, UN-HABITAT, Box 30030, Nairobi, Kenya; Tel: 254 2 623151/623153; Fax; 254 2 624060; Email:, Website: or Mobile in Johannesburg: 27-82-858-1775.

Wednesday 04 Sep 2002
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