ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD HABITAT DAY:
two generations, the global change that began in the last century will have
left two-thirds of the world's people living in cities. The city is becoming
a new habitat for humanity. But it is a habitat where many of our old ideas,
attitudes, customs and institutions leave us stranded, unable to foster our
own collective well-being.
The evidence lies
all around -- most tellingly in slums, where many of the problems illuminated
by the Millennium Declaration cluster in defiance of common decency. If our
urban world is to become sustainable, we must learn to rise more effectively
to the challenge of urban self-improvement.
A key factor will
be the ability of local governments and their partners to better manage growth
and change. Many initiatives to strengthen local capacity are already under
way at both national and international levels.
adds a new dimension to the learning process. Given their increasing power and
influence, cities are beginning to recognize the importance of working together
to face common challenges.
Many cities have
already joined hands on issues such as global warming and air pollution. But
there is a wide range of other concerns - poverty, crime, drug abuse - where
expanded exchanges of experience and expertise could yield significant results.
Legal and judicial cooperation can also help cities improve public administration
and build effective institutions.
If cities are the
collective future of humankind, it is time for us to take collective responsibility
for their future development. On this World Habitat Day, I urge local authorities
and urban residents - rich and poor - to seek out and share ways to achieve
a sustainable habitat for all of humanity.