Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Remarks
High-level panel discussion and luncheon on sustainable urbanization in China


I want to start by thanking Ambassador Liu Jieyi, a former colleague and a close friend of mine, and His Excellency, Martin Sajdik, President of ECOSOC, for their participation.  Their insights on China’s pathway to sustainable cities will help guide our work in this area.

I also want to welcome Professor Sachs, who has done extensive studies on sustainable development and the challenges facing China and other developing countries.  His leadership of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network has enabled the Network to make crucial contributions to UN work on the post-2015 development agenda.

I would also like to thank our partner China Energy Fund Committee and Dr. Ho, for the commitment and support for our work on sustainable development.

We decided to co-organize this event as we realize that the pathway China follows in urbanization will have far reaching impact, both inside China and beyond.

In this regard, China’s experience offers important lessons for other countries; likewise, China can learn from the success stories and lessons learned from other countries.

DESA’s work on cities and urbanization originated with Agenda 21, which focused on a number of critical areas under the chapter on human settlements, including shelter, land-use planning, provision of services such as water and sanitation, and energy and transport systems for cities.

We worked on these issues in close collaboration with UN system colleagues, including UNEP, UNDP and UN-HABITAT, among others.

Over the past 20 years, our approach has also changed and focused on a more integrated approach, with a stronger emphasis on the human dimension.

We realize that cities are more than mere physical infrastructure, important as it is. Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, education, social development and much more.

Cities can promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies if we adopt a holistic approach that ensure universal access to basic services, housing and mobility.

Last year, we organized a Symposium in Yangzhou, China. We worked with participants from different backgrounds and came up with a number of principles for sustainable cities, based on the best practices presented by participants.

Let me briefly highlight some of these principles.  

  1. To start with, applying a holistic approach to sustainable city development with a long-term vision and integrated planning perspective;
  2. Two,  addressing rural development dynamics;
  3. Three, engaging all stakeholders in the planning of urbanization processes;
  4. Four, developing public transport systems and reducing dependency on private motor vehicle use;
  5. Five, fostering growth in the service sector;
  6. Six, encouraging sound waste management practices, including recycling and recovery;
  7. Seven, developing resilience to natural disasters, and reducing settlements in risk prone areas;
  8. Eight, promoting efficient water resource management; and
  9. Nine, providing decent job opportunities, including for rural and migrant workers and integrating them in urban planning.

Of course, none of these will be possible without financing, good governance and effective partnerships.


This is just a quick overview that captures some of the lessons we have gathered.

We will continue to follow the urbanization pathways in China to enrich further our policy analysis, including from this dialogue.


Thank you.