Mr. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor of Lagos, West Africa’s biggest city, opened Wednesday’s dialogue on sustainable urbanization at the World Urban Forum with a call on national governments to commit more resources to cities so that they can cope with the challenges of globalisation.
Sustainable Urbanization is a dynamic process that includes environmental, socio-economic and political-institutional dimensions. The dialogue examined the challenges confronting local authorities and other partners in achieving social and environmental sustainability through better urban governance. His Worship, Mr. Tariq Kabbage, Mayor of Agadir, Morocco, cited a direct and important link between the cities and their respective rural areas that must be addressed in any sustainability plan.
On making urban governance more participatory, Mr. Kees van der Ree, Acting Director of Small Enterprise Programme (SEED), said it was disappointing that local citizens were often absent from the decision and planning process. The Peruvian architect, Ms.Liliana Miranda Sara, suggested that sustainable urban development be environmentally based because planning required the integration of environmental issues.
Mr. Rolf Lindel Director at the Swedish Ministry of Environment referred to a report published by the Ministry report entitled, From Vision to Action. Mr. Lindel also promoted a ‘bottom-up’ approach to urban sustainability, which includes all stakeholders. Within this approach is a dependence on the cooperation of multi-sector and cross-sector partnerships. The goals of these partnerships include good and affordable housing, safe and clean surroundings, and access to jobs, education and public services.
Ms. N. Inthan Azoor, the National Training Coordinator in Sri Lanka for the Sustainable Cities Programme agreed that such partnerships are very important, but diffi cult to maintain, and therefore should be the focus of urban governments.
Mr. Bakary Kante, Director of the UN Environment Programme Division of Policy Development and Law said environmental issues could not be overlooked in any urban sustainability plan.
“More than 1.2 billion people die each year from unsafe drinking water, 2.4 million of whom are children,” Mr. Kante said. He added that cities need to become more aware of the consequences of their impact on their surrounding areas emphasizing the direct link between rural and urban areas.
Mr. Luc-Marie Constant Gnacadja, Minister of Environment, Housing and Urbanism of Benin, closed the session by underscoring the importance of ensuring security before talking about sustainability. He further stressed that this week’s forum helps to open an “area where we can bring together social, economic and environmental concerns.” This is the forum by which we can effectively plan and develop ideas for urban sustainability.