|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
With Expo, Says Secretary-General, Shanghai Completes Transformation Many Years
in Making, Secures Reputation as One of World’s Most Cosmopolitan Cities
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Summit Forum of Expo 2010, in Shanghai, China, on 31 October:
The word has gone forth. Since May of this year, all around the world, people have been talking about a remarkable, even historic, event. They have heard about dazzling new technologies; rich cultural celebrations; star performances by dancers, singers, actors… all enacted on the stage-set of these beautiful and splendid pavilions.
And so they have come, here to Shanghai, from all corners of the world. They came to see with their own eyes — more than 70 million people from dozens of countries. And they were not disappointed. To the contrary, they were awed and inspired.
The Government of China, the City of Shanghai and the International Bureau of Expositions deserve the highest praise. At this great world plaza, they brought nations together, celebrated global diversity, inspired the world with feats of architectural design, rich intellectual exhibitions, and a rich multicultural mosaic of visitors.
With this Expo, Shanghai has secured its reputation as one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. Along the way, it has completed a transformation many years in the making. Let us remember: this is the first World Expo organized by a city in a developing country. And let us credit our hosts for their inventive, futurist theme — Better City, Better Life.
This theme could hardly be more timely. After all, we live in an increasingly urban century. Today, more than half of the world’s people live in cities. That percentage will continue to grow. Thanks to this Expo, millions of people learned about possibilities for making our cities healthier and safer — cities that better integrate nature and technology, cities that offer their citizens cleaner air and water, and better lives all around. In other words, this Expo offers hope — hope for tackling the growing challenges of our age of urbanization.
We all know that cities, today, are under enormous pressure. More and more people are moving into the world’s cities. As they grow ever larger, cities are less and less able to cope. Billions of people live in life-threatening conditions, trapped in slums from which they cannot hope to escape, lacking basic amenities from fresh water and sanitation to basic shelter.
Cities are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. And those on the coasts face the risk of rising sea levels associated with climate change. Still, cities remain powerful draws. They are centres for jobs and economic opportunity. They drive commerce and innovation. People flock to them in hopes of finding a better life.
The Shanghai Expo has given us invaluable ideas for tackling these challenges. We have seen innovations in construction and new uses of natural resources. We have been reminded of what architects and builders can do to cut energy and water use. We more fully appreciate the importance of mass transit systems. And we understand that special attention must be given to the unique problems of the world’s slums.
In all this, I hope that China will be an urban pioneer. Already, China is a frontrunner in addressing the urban slum challenge and in embracing green technologies, renewable energy sources and green business models.
I look forward to working more closely with China across the sustainable development agenda. Let us work together towards wiser use of our planet’s finite natural resources. Let us introduce sustainable practices at all stages of production, consumption and trade, from policy-making to the daily operations of small and large businesses. Let us do more to develop renewable sources of energy, and make them affordable to all people. And let us work together to combat climate change, encouraging our cities and towns to vigorously implement mitigation and adaptation measures.
These are the core tenets of the “green economy”. And all are essential for achieving truly sustainable development — development that incorporates social, economic and environmental goals for cities and entire nations.
In 2012, world leaders will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development — Rio + 20. There, we will renew political commitments and seek to identify gaps and address new challenges that have emerged since the Earth Summit two decades ago. I have high hopes for this event, and I invite you to join us. Let us use the lessons of the Shanghai Expo to reinvigorate the spirit of Rio.
The Shanghai Expo will soon close, but it will not be forgotten. As you prepare to return home, I hope you will keep spreading the word. The Shanghai Expo — and our own United Nations pavilion — has sent a powerful message to the world.
That message is this: by sharing our knowledge, our cultures, and our desire for a better world, we are all enriched — and we can all succeed. Let us keep the Shanghai vision alive in our discussions, our lifestyles and our work.
* *** *For information media • not an official record