|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference to Launch 2011 UN-Habitat Report on Human Settlements
Officials of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) released a report at Headquarters today which identifies promising ways in which the world can mitigate and adapt to climate change while following more sustainable, resilient patterns of urban development.
In presenting the biennial report, Global Report on Human Settlements 2011: Cities and Climate Change, at a press conference, they highlighted the key role of city leaders, who were better placed than national authorities to effect positive change. “Cities are not waiting; cities are acting,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos, pointing to initiatives by municipal officials around the world to adjust building codes, transport systems and energy networks with an eye to the future.
Citing production figures, UN-Habitat says that cities — already home to more than half the world’s population — are responsible for between 40 and 70 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, due largely to high fossil fuel consumption. Mr. Clos said that in the report, UN-Habitat encourages city leaders to rethink urban planning in ways that will better manage urban sprawl and address growing climate-induced urban problems, such as landslides and reduce emissions. “We need to look for a new model of growth based on renewable energies,” he added.
Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Director of UN-Habitat’s Monitoring and Research Division, said there was no “one-size-fits-all” mitigation or adaptation policy for cities. Rather, they should conduct vulnerability assessments to identify common and differentiated risks to urban development and decide how to reduce them so that city dwellers’ lives were not radically disrupted.
The report also suggests making financial resources more directly available to local players, for climate-change adaptation in vulnerable cities, investment in alternative energy, and mitigation partnerships between local authorities and private-sector organizations. At the national level, it calls on Governments, among other things, to offer tax incentives for investment in alternative energy sources, energy-efficient appliances and climate-proof infrastructure, while encouraging appropriate climate responses, such as effective flood-protection policies.
Asked why the report singled out data on Mexico City and Sao Paulo in its Latin America highlights, Mr. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka said both illustrated that the more complex a city, the more diverse its climate-change issues. While some areas of each city were largely shielded from risk, people in other areas were highly vulnerable, he noted.
When asked about UN-Habitat’s role in helping to stop forcible evictions in urban slums and, specifically, in responding to an October 2010 case in Cambodia that had been brought to the Secretary-General’s attention, Mr. Clos said he advocated against such evictions and tried to publicly expose them when they occurred. He added, however, that he was not aware of the Cambodia case.
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