Minister Costello highlighted growth in cities as one of the major challenges facing the world.
At a major conference on global poverty in Dublin today, Minister for Development and Trade Joe Costello TD said that the rapid increase in urbanisation is one of the greatest changes, and challenges, facing the world.
“While the West deals with a financial crisis, much of the developing world is recording unprecedented economic growth. Alongside this economic development comes population growth, and in particular the expansion of cities across the developing world. This urban expansion will be one of the biggest challenges facing the world over the coming decades.”
Opening the 8th Forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty, which focuses on the need for smart, safe, and sustainable cities as the world’s population expands over the coming years, Minister Costello said:
“One hundred years ago less than 20% of the world’s population were living in urban areas. Two years ago we reached the 50:50 point. By the end of this century almost three quarters of the world’s population will live in urban areas and most of that will take place in developing countries. Clearly, if we are to make progress on development targets in the coming decades then our cities will have an enormous role to play in delivering better development for the billions of their inhabitants.”
At the Forum, which was also addressed by Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women; former President Mary Robinson, now President of the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice; and Tom Arnold, Chief Executive Officer of Concern Worldwide, the Minister stressed the need to make cities smart safe and sustainable.
“The concept of ‘smart, safe, sustainable cities’ is vitally important. The three themes are completely interlinked in that you cannot have one without the others. All aspects of our urban infrastructure must be safe for all members of society including the elderly, women, and children among others.
“’Smart, safe, cities’ above all else requires that national and local government work closely together with the private and voluntary sectors, but above all else with the active involvement of the communities from whom they derive their mandate. With ‘good governance’ in place our citizens can then reasonably expect that we can address the more immediate concerns: better urban planning; infrastructure; housing; the public safety; unemployment; and disaster risk reduction.
“The challenges posed by urbanisation will be one of the themes examined at a major international conference focussing on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice taking place in Dublin castle in April as part of Ireland’s Presidency.
“Each city has its own unique development history. There is ‘no one size fits all’ solution. Yet all of our cities face common challenges and we all have much to learn from our shared experiences”, concluded Minister Costello.
For further information contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Press Office, Irish Aid Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 01-4082653 or 087-9099975