Pathways and Concerns for the Future
Vladimir Drobnjak the Vice President of the Economic and Social Council opened the meeting by noting that 67 million new urban dwellers would reside in cities and towns within developing countries before 2020. It is therefore clear that leaders around the world have a very important role to navigate and plan for these impacts on their cities now to ensure equitable and effective urbanisation.
Mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Parks Tau explained that when communities took responsibility for inclusive programs by creating partnerships with the private sector, expenditures on the government went down and communities benefitted greatly. Mayor Tau also explained the importance for clean energy initiatives to meet the needs of urbanised areas, which Johannesburg has already begun approaching through 150 hybrid public buses; these buses run on a mix of biofuel and diesel and will be operational by the end of 2014.
While the urbanization of African nations offers the chance for dramatic economic growth and empowerment through development there are strong concerns for the inequalities that could arise. Mr Carrasco, Prefect of Azuay in Ecuador, shared his conclusion that inequalities were due to limited access to services and the trend towards decentralization of the State. Mr Carrasco recommended that citizens be included in the processes of planning, building and implementing development procedures to encourage participation and strengthen the social fabric of new urban populations.
H.E. Michal Mlynár, Ambassador of Slovakia, and Ms. Carmen Griffiths explained the impact of urbanization could be disproportionately challenging on women. Ms. Griffiths emphasized concerns towards the large levels of crime in cities, particularly crimes against women. H.E. Mlynár explained inequalities among urban populations had increased in the last 20 years, and stressed that security was among the fundamental human rights that people expected, yet leaders failed to recognize that security challenges were often rooted in inequalities.
Meeting Title: Economic and Social Council 16th meeting: Dialogue on “Urban prosperity and urban inequalities”
Speakers: Vladimir Drobnjak Vice President of the Economic and Social Council, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira from UN-Habitat, H.E. Mayor Mpho Parks Tau of Johannesburg, Mr. Paul Carrasco Prefect from Azuay, Zoubida Allaoua representing Sustainable Development at the World Bank, Carmen Griffiths from Construction Resource and Development Center Jamaica, H.E. Michal Mlynár Ambassador of Slovakia, Professor Paul Romer from New York University
Date: 28 May 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark