Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Opening ceremony of the Shanghai City Campaign, Milan Expo 2015

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to attend this “Shanghai Let’s Meet” event as part of the “Expo in the City” program and Shanghai’s City Campaign.

It is a critical time in the history of the United Nations. Governments are working hard to pin down the Post-2015 development agenda. The agenda includes a vision for the future we want. It includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are anchored in the principles of sustainable development, and applicable to all countries of the world.

This event offers an opportune moment to recognize the centrality of sustainable cities and urbanization to the future of humanity. Projections indicate that by 2050, almost 66 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. And 95 per cent of urban expansion will take place in the developing world. The critical challenge over the coming decades, , will be to take full advantage of the potential benefits of urbanization in an inclusive and integrated manner, while lessening the negative impacts.

Worldwide, cities generate some 80 per cent of global GDP. In Africa, 60 per cent of the region’s GDP is created in cities. Therefore, we must recognize that industrialization and urbanization need to be considered in together, with a strategic approach.

World leaders recognized this challenge. The urban agenda reaches across the SDGs in their totality, encompassing elements of sustainable consumption and production, resilient infrastructure, and water and sanitation to name a few. Goal Eleven of the Sustainable Development Goals is on “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” It includes a number of important components of sustainable cities; access to affordable basic services, sustainable transport systems; inclusive public green spaces; and financial, as well as technical assistance.

As we implement the post-2015 agenda and SDGs, it is essential that we build on existing partnerships, and share lessons learned and good practices at all levels of governance.

Shanghai, China’s largest city, has shown how it is possible to find an equilibrium between environmental protection and rapid economic growth. Large investments in environmental protection have resulted in an increase in public transportation, as well as scientific and engineering expertise committed to matching the city’s rapid development with effective sustainable urban management. For this reason, knowledge exchange with cities like Milan, offers valuable instruction for cities that are facing environmental management challenges or are expecting to face in the near future.

Shanghai, the host of the last World Expo in 2010, and Milan, our host this year, are sister cities, embodying the spirit of urban sustainability, renewal and optimism. I encourage you to continue this connection and to engage in ongoing knowledge exchange, especially in terms of best practice sustainable urban development, cultural exchanges and wide-ranging discussions on effective urban management.

My department, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, has had the opportunity to collaborate with the Shanghai Municipal Government in advancing sustainable urban development through the preparation of the Shanghai Manual. The manual presents best practices in sustainable urban development and provides practical advice on policies that local authorities and mayors especially may find useful. We are now embarking on the preparation of a Second Edition of the Shanghai Manual, and I look forward to our continued partnership.

Distinguished guests,

Urban life is by definition a collaborative and cooperative experience—with so many lives and communities interacting on a daily basis. The sustainable development of cities will likewise succeed only if we work together. The United Nations is ready to support Shanghai, Milan, and cities across the globe to realize the sustainable future we all want.

Thank you.