Making Urban Development Work for Sustainable Growth and Prosperity

Dr Joan Clos
Dr Joan Clos
UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-Habitat

We live in an urban era: the majority of the world’s population today live in cities. The rapidly increasing dominance of cities, as the habitat of humankind, places the process of urbanisation among the most significant global trends of the next twenty years. Demographic studies confirm that between 2010 and 2050, the global urban population will grow by almost three billion people. Huge urban transformations around the world, including many Commonwealth countries in sub- Saharan Africa, south Asia and the Caribbean, are already happening. The key issue is not whether we urbanise, but in the way that we are going to do it. How are we going to optimise all the benefits of urbanisation?

In UN-Habitat, there is a strong belief that urbanisation is not so much the problem as the solution to many of the challenges the world is facing today. Well planned urbanisation is a driving force and a source of development which has the power to improve and change the lives of billions of people.

This reflection comes at an unprecedented moment of international dialogue marked by three global events. The first is the adoption of the post-2015 universal agenda, in September this year, which consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aiming at ending poverty and improving the quality of life of the world population for the next thirty years. One of these goals is dedicated to sustainable cities and human settlements. No less than five other goals and around 40 targets require sustainable approaches to urbanisation to succeed...

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