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Cities' plight in UN agenda

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, January 08, 2014

AS chair of the Group of 77 and China, Fiji has called on world leaders to give urgent attention to the sustainability of cities in the future.

The message was relayed to world leaders at the United Nations in New York by Fiji's Ambassador Peter Thomson in his address at the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals yesterday.

An Information Ministry statement yesterday said the subject under current debate by the OWG was Sustainable Cities, Human Settlement and Sustainable Transport.

Mr Thomson explained that the 133-member Group of 77's approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post-2015 Development Agenda was firmly aimed at eradicating poverty and advancing sustainable development.

He told the OWG that the grim reality of approximately one billion people living in urban slums highlighted the gravity of the challenges they faced.

Mr Thomson said the Group of 77 encouraged governments and UN Habitat to use planned city extension methodologies to guide the sustainable development of cities in order to prevent slum proliferation, enhance access to basic urban services, support inclusive housing, enhance job opportunities and create a safe and healthy living environment for all urban dwellers.

He also pointed out that the world's urban areas were expected to expand by 60 per cent before 2030, representing unparalleled opportunities to transform the social and economic fabric of nations.

"Today 50 per cent of the world's seven billion people are urbanised, with projections showing that some 70 per cent will live in cities by 2050," he said.

He said the SDGs must address the multi-dimensional challenges of urban dwellers in order to provide access to basic services, improve the lives of slum dwellers, strengthen urban resilience and protect ecosystems."

Mr Thomson also called for modalities of interaction between nations at the international level, as well as between central and local governments at national levels, in order to fulfil their respective roles as governmental stakeholders in global efforts on sustainability.

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