2011 Urban Environmental Accords Summit Focuses on Green Cities

13 October 2011: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director Amina Mohamed addressed the 2011 Urban Environmental Accords (UEA) Gwangju Summit, which convened under the theme of “Green Cities, Better Cities.”

Ban told the Summit that the experience of cities “can provide valuable input to the “Rio+20 discourse and outcomes,” highlighting the opportunity to “scale up transformations already under way” to catalyze a development path that is sustainable.

Mohamed underscored that green economy and sustainable development, through “resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production” are achievable goals. She outlined challenges for cities including, unsustainable resource and energy consumption, carbon emissions, pollution, and health hazards. But said cities also provided opportunities as they house “hope and innovation,” are the focal points of the economy.

Reflecting on the need to enable green cities, Mohamed called for policy frameworks at all levels of government, as well as new finance mechanisms and incentives. She urged policy makers to ensure that there are “synergies which simultaneously promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, deliver economic prosperity and reduce resource intensity, while promoting social inclusion.”

Looking torward the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), Mohamed indicated that UNEP would be looking for more adequate ways and means for strengthening cooperation and building partnerships with national and local governments to deliver the needed transformative change. The Summit is convening in Gwangju, Republic of Korea, from 12-13 October 2011. [UNEP Press Release, 12 October 2011] [UN Secretary-General's Speech] [UNEP Press Release, 13 October 2011]