“Urbanisation can be used as a powerful tool for creating employment and livelihoods”, stated Dr. Joan Clos, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, on the occasion of the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum, which kicked off in Naples, Italy, on Saturday, 1 September.
He added that “this requires a mindset shift on the part of decision makers, away from viewing urbanisation mainly as a problem, towards viewing urbanisation as a tool for development” (official address).
On the same occasion, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stressed that “in just over a generation, two-thirds of all people will live in urban areas” which will become “crucial battlegrounds to win the fights against climate change, energy inefficiency and pollution” (official message).
The theme of this year’s World Urban Forum, organised jointly by UN-HABITAT, the Government of Italy, the Campania Region and the City of Naples, is “The Urban Future”.
The four focus areas for discussion are:
• The Shape of Cities: Urban Planning Institutions, Regulations for Better Quality of Life;
• Equity and Prosperity: Distribution of Wealth and Opportunities;
• Productive Cities: Urban Job Creation; and
• Urban Mobility, Energy and Environment.
In parallel with the main sessions, there will also be numerous special sessions, roundtables, networking, side and training events, and an exhibition showcasing some of the world’s leading cities and innovations in urban development.
The debate is already underway with nearly 1,500 people signing up for the online e-Debates. The online platform gives people who will not be able to travel to Naples the chance to join the debate while also using the opinions given to shape the Forum discussions.
The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing challenges the world faces today: rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.
This year’s Forum takes place in Naples, Italy, from 1 to 7 September 2012. Its participants include the European Commission Joint Research Centre and several UN agencies, such as UN-HABITAT, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
If you want to share your ideas about our urban future and be part of the change, join the new UN-HABITAT’s campaign “One Minute for Change“. Once you fill in your data, you will have a chance to record a short message, in which you can let the world know what kind of urban future you want.