World Urban Forum sets Sights on “The Urban Future” in Naples
Forum focuses on challenges of rapid urbanization
Photo by South-South News
On a rapidly urbanizing planet, it is critical to ensure that, as cities and towns grow, they do so in sustainable, safe ways. It is for this reason that UN Habitat is currently holding the sixth session of the World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy.
The theme of this year’s forum, “The Urban Future,” speaks to skyrocketing pace of urbanization occurring in the world today, especially in the countries of the global south. For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities – that figure is expected to rise to 75 percent by 2050.
“What we are seeing now is a huge process of urbanization in the south which goes hand in hand with development,” said UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos at the Forum’s opening. “You cannot have one without the other. The problem is that the institutional architecture cannot keep pace with urbanization.”
“It's like a tsunami. Urbanization goes faster than the capacity to manage it,” Mr. Clos announced. “We need to re-design our cities to face these challenges.”
The great migration from country to city holds many potential benefits – but also poses critical challenges. How can cities produce enough food to keep themselves fed? How can we ensure that the benefits of living in cities are distributed adequately across all inhabitants? How can we be sure that there will be enough jobs for all these new residents? And how can cities grow exponentially while minimizing energy usage and abiding by standards of environment sustainability?
It is these questions that the World Urban Forum seeks to answer.
This forum also includes the launch the “State of the Urban Youth Report 2012-2013,” is giving special attention to the role played by young people in cities. The United Nations has repeatedly called upon national governments to address the challenges that young urbanites face, like joblessness, poor infrastructure, and street violence; this forum aims to provide some solutions to this pressing problems.
This Forum, which has been co-organized by UN-Habitat, the Government of Italy, the Campania Region and the city of Naples runs from September 1 to 7, and is expected to draw over 3,000 participants from around the world.