Statement by Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly, at the Gateway Portals to the City: Infrastructure for Sustainable Urbanization
19 May 2017
Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you to the organisers of today’s event.
It is pleasure to join this discussion on infrastructure for sustainable urbanisation, and the particular importance of ‘gateway portals to the city’.
Just two weeks ago, I was in Nairobi where I had the honour to address the Governing Council of UN-Habitat.
My central message to the leaders and high-level representatives assembled there was a simple one – that to achieve a world of sustainable peace, development, and prosperity, we must bring focused attention to the critical role of our cities.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2030 Agreement, taken together with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, represents our best hope for a secure future for our children and grandchildren.
And the New Urban Agenda, adopted in Quito, Ecuador, last October is an important complement to these agreements.
There are of course a mosaic of other multilateral agreements that make up the path to a sustainable future. A key part of this mosaic is the New Urban Agenda provides an action-oriented framework to bring much-needed understanding, attention and resources to sustainable urbanisation, and to building cities and human settlements that are more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and safer for all.
Across our world, cities are home to more than half of the world’s population. They are social and cultural hubs, and the engines of production, innovation, trade and economic growth.
But in the face of rapid and profound change to the way humanity lives, investments in resilient and sustainable infrastructure in urban environments are urgently needed.
Indeed, investments in sustainable infrastructure for cities are fundamental to improving the lives of all people – within nations and across borders.
To unlock such investments and ensure that they support infrastructure in Gateway Portals, a number of actions are needed, many of which were identified at the SDG Financing Lab, which we convened at the UN in New York in April:
Firstly, the financing needed already exists around the world, but much more needs to be done to get the regulatory frameworks in place to shift investments towards Sustainable Infrastructure.
Doing so requires a scaling-up of investments including financial and technical support, so that countries have the human and institutional capacity needed to strengthen domestic resource mobilisation, mobilize sustainable investments, and package infrastructure needs into bankable projects that are attractive to investors.
Secondly, despite the SDGs making economic sense for businesses, global financing being available, and bankable and sustainable projects being developed, there continues to be a market failure that is hindering the flow of financing towards sustainable infrastructure investment.
Greater attention therefore needs to be given to improving access to information for investors about market opportunities in LDCs, SIDS and LLDCs.
Thirdly, we need to support nationally-led efforts to build sustainable peace, to improve good governance, rule of law, human rights, gender equality, and social inclusion, as part of a comprehensive approach to help countries attract sustainable investments, drive long-term economic growth, and achieve the SDGs.
And finally, we must use all possible opportunities, to bring together all stakeholders to help identify and address LDCs, SIDS and LLDCs’ infrastructure and capacity gaps. We have to better highlight opportunities for sustainable urban investment and cooperation, and build inclusive and strategic partnerships. Such partnerships can leverage comparative advantages, drive coordinated efforts, and mobilize sustainable investments.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
to help take forward global discussions on these and other issues related to Sustainable Urban Development, on 29-30 August I will be convening a High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly to enable Member States to discuss implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the role of UN-Habitat.
I encourage you all to participate in this High-Level Meeting, in order to ensure that implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda are taken forward coherently, effectively and efficiently.
In conclusion, addressing infrastructure for sustainable urbanisation is fundamental to our efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. With the New Urban Agenda as our guide, we are on track to work collaboratively, share experiences, and develop good practices to build the cities and human settlements of the future. Our destination is a shared one. We are headed for cities that are inclusive, sustainable, resilient, and safe for all.
I thank you for your attention.