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‘77m urban dwellers risk poverty’


United Nations

The United Nations has estimated that some 77 million urban residents risk falling into poverty, if no action is taken to stop climate change.

It called for a more sustainable and resilient world to contain the rapid urbanisation.

The secretary-general, António Guterres, in a message to mark the World Cities Day celebrated on October 31, asserted that about 1.4 million people move to cities every week, which had strained local capacities, contributing to increased risk from natural and man-made disasters.

He stressed that “the hazards do not need to become disasters, as the answer is to build resilience to storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, pandemics and economic crises.”

The UN scribe noted that the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the New Urban Agenda, together, provide a roadmap for a more sustainable and resilient world.

This year’s World Cities Day focused on resilience and sustainability.

According to Guterres, cities around the world are already acting to increase resilience and sustainability.

“Bangkok has built vast underground water storage facilities to cope with increased flood risk and save water for drier periods.

“In Quito, the local government has reclaimed or protected more than 200,000 hectares of land to boost protection from flood, reduce erosion and safeguard the city’s freshwater supply and biodiversity.

“And in Johannesburg, the city is involving residents in efforts to improve public spaces, so they can be safely used for recreation, sports, community events and services such as free medical care.

“On World Cities Day, let us be inspired by these examples. Let us work together to build sustainable and resilient cities that provide safety and opportunities for all,” he added.

The UN under-secretary-general and executive director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Sharif, has stressed the need for resilient cities to be recognised in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, the Sendai Framework and in the New Urban Agenda.

Urban resilience, he said, does not just mean building strong infrastructure; it also requires strong economic, social and governance systems to support physical and intangible resilience.

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