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UN Officials Mark World Habitat Day Urging that Urbanization Should Not Come at Expense of Environment

Urbanization must not come at expense of environment, say UN officials 6 October 2008: Top UN officials marked World Habitat Day by

drawing attention to the need to raise awareness of the problems of rapid

urbanization, its impact on the environment and the challenges of rising urban

poverty. The UN has designated the first Monday in October each year as World

Habitat Day, to reflect on the state of towns and cities and the basic right to

adequate shelter for all. This year, Luanda, Angola, led the observance of the

celebration, which focused on the theme “Harmonious Cities.”

Anna Tibaijuka,

Executive Director, UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), noted that

“climate change is coming to the forefront of international debate at the same

time, and at virtually the same pace, as the world becomes urbanized.”

Underlining the amount of energy consumed and the greenhouse gases released by

cities, she stressed the need for cities to be an integral part of any

mitigation efforts. She added that reducing the carbon footprint of cities and

increasing their resilience will also improve the living conditions of urban

populations, including the most vulnerable. She emphasized the interlinkages

between climate change and urban poverty and called for combining adaptation and

mitigation efforts with improved land-use planning, more robust infrastructure

and smarter construction.

Also on the occasion, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive

Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), underscored the role

played by cities and local authorities in designing and implementing land-use

and zoning planning tools, urban development and infrastructure guidelines,

investment promotion, and consumer awareness campaigns. He added that these

tools and measures have direct effects on biodiversity, and in particular on,

inter alia, water, climate change, protected areas, agriculture and forests,

and marine and coastal biodiversity. He explained that the CBD, in partnership

with the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the German Federal

Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, launched

The Green Wave, a global campaign aiming to educate children and youth on

biodiversity and the need to reduce its loss and to enable young people to make

a tangible contribution towards both biodiversity conservation and climate

change mitigation. [UN

Press Release] [Anna

Tibaijuka's speech] [Ahmed

Djoghlaf's message]