UN drives for urban equity

A new focus on practical and sustainable ways of creating more inclusive and compact cities that address complex issues like inequality, population and infrastructure, will be highlighted in 2014 by the United Nations World Urban Forum, WUF7 with the theme, ‘Urban equity in development’ — Cities for life.’

Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Joan Clos believes that an opportunity like WUF7 to discuss measures of urbanization is the answer to the world’s most pressing problems. Sustainability will not only be an important topic for the UN’s post-2015 economic agenda, but also pose a serious comparison for future generations to ponder: it is one thing to come up with solutions that rectify the current state of poverty, over-population and disease, but it’s entirely another to sustain those solutions over the next 20 or even 30 years, according to UN Habitat.

With the growing world population and the influx of people moving to large cities, urbanization is reaching tipping point: where will all these people go, and how will they live amongst each other in harmony? This is one question to be addressed by the WUF7 and the UN states cramped cities invite great opportunities, but they also produce great challenges. Poverty, violence and lack of sanitation are just a few of the things that can quickly age city officials as they try to figure out how to best accommodate the movement of new inhabitants. With over 100 million people living in slums worldwide, the reality of elevating living conditions that promote healthy development is a bit frightening. Local authorities need the support of national and international governments just to meet a few of the obstacles.

WUF7 is a unique meeting place that will hopefully address the issue of urbanization as it pertains to the post-2015 agenda. However, authorities will have to move quickly; it is estimated that the number of urban settlers has reached 3.5 million over the course of human history, and will only take 30 to 40 years to double. The winning partnership to creating better cities will need to marry both diplomacy and sustainability, because once implemented by government, cities can then work to sustain urbanization in such a way that promotes equality, development and health.

A security and fundamental rights approach might as well be a standpoint that the participants of WUF7 can address as they tackle the well being of urbanites, according to the UN.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.