At the closing of the Shanghai World Expo

Your Excellency Mr. Yu Zhengshen, Party Secretary of Shanghai,
Your Excellency Mr. Han Zheng, Mayor of Shanghai,
Your Excellency Mr. Wan Jifei, Chairman of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade,
Your Excellency Mr. Jean-Pierre Lafon, President of the BIE,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a special honour to join you at the closing of this Summit Forum on behalf of the United Nations.

Let me start by congratulating the city of Shanghai.

You have done a truly remarkable job.

Just as the Beijing Olympics redefined the Olympic movement, the Shanghai Expo has redefined the scope and scale of World Expos.

As the Secretary-General said early today, the City of Shanghai, the government of China and the Bureau International des Expositions deserve our highest praise and admiration for bringing nations together, for celebrating diverse cultures, and for setting out a vision of sustainable cities under the theme of “Better City, Better Life”.

The Shanghai Declaration, which we have just adopted, encapsulates the essence, the aspirations and the priorities of that vision.

As the first developing country to host an expo, you have ignited the imaginations of people and leaders of all countries, but especially those in the developing world.

Well done, Shanghai!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Shanghai has proved that World Expos are not only venues for cultural exchange, but also forums for tackling the challenges of modern times.

Today’s event has been the pinnacle of the Expo’s theme forums. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which I head, has been so privileged and honoured to contribute to the six theme forums and to partake in today’s event. I thank the city of Shanghai and the Expo Organizing Committee for making it possible.

Today’s Summit Forum has featured a rich variety of sub-forums and activities.

We have been in the presence of a dazzling array of accomplished people.

We have heard from high-level political leaders, renowned academics and leading corporate executives.

Through their participation we have glimpsed new, exciting prospects for the cities of tomorrow.

These prospects are embedded in hope for what mankind can achieve.

As the Pavilions have shown us, we have achieved so much already….we have so many tools at hand, so much science and technology….

Like no other Expo before it, Shanghai Expo has showcased many solutions to urban challenges. The Urban Best Practices Area has re-created solutions achieved in other cities and demonstrated them here.

Today’s panellists and participants at the Forum and sub-Forums have reminded us that science and technology must be used to improve the quality of people’s lives in cities.

We must marshal the stunning benefits that technology provides to harmonize the needs of people and nature. That is how we build a city of harmony - that is what lies at the heart of urban sustainable development and the vision of “Better City, Better Life.”


We must work toward this harmony with urgency. It is not just something that would be nice to have, something good to implement, if possible. We must make it possible and make it happen.

Especially for the millions of people who live in desperate, unacceptable urban environments today.

As you know, many cities have slums where thousands of people live without access to clean water, sanitation services and safe housing structures.

Often, they lack opportunities for decent jobs.

They lack basic health services.

They lack educational opportunities.

And the tide of new residents flowing into cities from rural areas does not show sign of diminishing, adding to the urgent challenge of urbanization in developing countries.

For despite the poverty and social inequities that might await these new residents, cities can offer them opportunities and hope for a better life someday.

Over the last six months, the Shanghai Expo has successfully raised awareness of the need for better cities.

Equally important, the Shanghai Expo has illustrated the many possibilities for building better cities.

The world needs events like this to educate the public and inspire them to think and live differently in cities and to come to grips with the urbanization challenge of the 21st century.

The Expo, therefore, has made huge contributions to the work and goals of the United Nations.

The UN has many mandates, but key among them is the goal of improving the lives of the two billion people who live in extreme poverty – many of them in cities.

Through international frameworks such as the Millennium Development Goals, we help countries reduce poverty, increase health services and education and implement policies and programmes that ensure that women and men have equal rights.

Sustainable development, with its integration of the three pillars of economic, social and environmental goals, provides an overarching framework for strategies and measures to achieve these internationally agreed development goals.

In Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the United Nations will host a major conference on sustainable development to renew political commitment, to assess progress and to identify new and emerging challenges.

As Secretary-General of the Rio+20 conference I am pleased that this Expo has shined a global spotlight on sustainable development. It has helped us garner support for the conference theme of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

In this regard, the Shanghai Declaration, highlighting the critical elements of sustainable urban development and priorities for action emerging from the Theme Forums and this Summit Forum, serves as a clarion call.

The Declaration calls upon all cities to take action:

For governments and businesses to work together in creating cleaner industries, using low-carbon technologies and renewable energy sources;

To use science and technology to develop win-win solutions and to bring real benefits to all urban residents;

To promote inclusive cities where different cultures are accepted and celebrated;

To provide opportunities for public participation in urban governance, and to create a friendly, responsible and inclusive social environment for all residents;

And to promote balanced urban-rural development by actively promoting urban-rural dialogue and integration.

Let us take these lofty aspirations and actions from the Declaration and return to our cities and implement them.

The Shanghai Expo Manual, which encapsulates the lessons learned and best practices gained from the Expo’s myriad exhibits and activities, as well as the Theme Forums, will serve as an excellent resource tool as you make changes. The manual will help guide city planners in pursuing the vision of “Better City, Better Life”.

I urge you to work with the United Nations in whatever way possible. We have offices and programmes throughout the world and we stand ready to assist you.

We also need your help as we prepare for the Rio+20 conference. Governments alone cannot achieve sustainability. We need the broadest possible alliance and we need leaders.

Whether it is in combating climate change or preserving our rich natural heritages...

...or achieving efficiency in resource use, spurring sustainable green growth, advancing social equity, and building cities of harmony, we need you as partners and as leaders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we come to the end of this exciting, enriching and challenging journey in Shanghai, there is already nostalgia in the air, but also hope.

The city of Shanghai will never be the same. The millions of visitors who passed through here have injected this city with excitement and wonder.

Even though the Expo is closing, let us spread the messages and inspiration that we have absorbed here.

Here and now, let’s commit to share our knowledge in order to build the cities of tomorrow.

Let’s build on the successes and lessens learned from the Expo.

Let us return to our home countries and cities and make our communities cleaner and more dynamic and more harmonious.

Let us live gre

ener lifestyles, implement green businesses and strive for smaller carbon footprints.

And most importantly, let us work together to end poverty and advance inclusive growth.

In this 21st century, we have the tools needed to eradicate hunger and poverty, so let us use them to create a better global city, and a better global life for everyone, everywhere.

Let’s make the conclusion of the Summit Forum and the Expo the starting point of a new phase in our journey toward sustainable cities, cities of harmony. Let us name October 31st, the day of the closing ceremony of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, as World Cities Day. Let us pursue the vision of “Better City, Better Life.” The people of the world deserve no less.

I thank you.

File date: 
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs