Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Voices of cities from Rio+20

Yesterday at Rio +20 the C40 grouping of mayors from 58 megacities around the globe committed to the implementation of actions towards climate change mitigation and mayors agreed on 2 key actions: partnershops and measurement & accountability. The main areas of action are infrastructure for public transport and strengthening networks of cities with common goals and challenges.

Michael Bloomberg, the C40 chair and New York City Mayor, stressed the contrast between the incapacity to act by national governments and the agility of municipal authorities, which seem to be up to meeting the social and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Actions by cities are taken individually and collectively, often without any funding from national governments. Examples span from solid waste collection initiatives in New Delhi, Lagos and Mexico City to Paris' rental bike and electric car programs, to Bogota's public transportation system and electric taxis.Here is the text that has been agreed upon so far, with the final approval to come on June 22:

"Sustainable cities and human settlements
134. We recognize that, if well planned and developed including through integrated planning and management approaches, cities can promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies. In this regard, we recognize the need for a holistic approach to urban development and human settlements that provides for affordable housing and infrastructure and prioritizes slum upgrading and urban regeneration. We commit to work towards improving the quality of human settlements, including the living and working conditions of both urban and rural dwellers in the context of poverty eradication so that all people have access to basic services, housing and mobility. We also recognize the need for conservation as appropriate of the natural and cultural heritage of human settlements, the revitalization of historic districts, and the rehabilitation of city centers.

135. We commit to promote an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities and urban settlements, including through supporting local authorities, increasing public awareness and enhancing participation of urban residents, including the poor, in decision making. We also commit to promote sustainable development policies that support inclusive housing and social services; a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly children, youth, women, elderly and disabled; affordable and sustainable transport and energy; promotion, protection and restoration of safe and green urban spaces; safe and clean drinking water and sanitation; healthy air quality; generation of decent jobs; and improved urban planning and slum upgrading. We further support sustainable management of waste through the application of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). We underline the importance of considering disaster risk reduction, resilience and climate risks in urban planning. We recognize the efforts of cities to balance development with rural regions.

136. We emphasize the importance of increasing the number of metropolitan regions, cities and towns that are implementing policies for sustainable urban planning and design in order to respond effectively to the expected growth of urban populations in coming decades. We note that sustainable urban planning benefits from the involvement of multiple stakeholders as well as from full use of information and sex-disaggregated data including on demographic trends, income distribution and informal settlements. We recognize the important role of municipal governments in setting a vision for sustainable cities, from the initiation of city planning through to revitalization of older cities and neighborhoods, including by adopting energy efficiency programmes in building management and developing sustainable locally-appropriate transport systems. We further recognize the importance of mixed-use planning and of encouraging non-motorized mobility, including by promoting pedestrian and cycling infrastructures.

137. We recognize that partnerships among cities and communities play an important role in promoting sustainable development. In this regard, we stress the need to strengthen existing cooperation mechanisms or platforms, partnership arrangements and other implementation tools to advance the coordinated implementation of the UN Habitat Agenda with active involvement of all relevant UN entities and with the overall aim of achieving sustainable urban development. We further recognize the continuing need for adequate and predictable financial contributions to the UN Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation so as to ensure timely, effective and concrete global implementation of the Habitat Agenda."

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