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UN Secretary-General's remarks at Presidential Dialogue on the African Urban Agenda

By Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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UN Secretary-General's remarks at Presidential Dialogue on the African Urban Agenda:

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL PRESIDENTIAL DIALOGUE ON THE AFRICAN URBAN AGENDA New York, 24 September 2015

We gather at an exciting time for Africa and the world.

Africa continues its rapid transformation. Economic growth over the last few years has been impressive, despite the global economic crisis.

Africa is the most rapidly urbanising region of the world. Two-thirds of Africa`s projected total population of 2.5 billion people will require urban services by 2063. And Africa needs to be ready.

I want to thank all of you here today for your leadership and commitment to the African urban agenda.

You recognize that rapid economic growth and urbanization present a unique opportunity to shape the urban growth pattern of Africa.

If managed well, urbanization can be a powerful engine to sustainable development.

Urbanization is based on human design. The greater the focus on the quality of that design, the better the chance of positive results such as quality jobs and social prosperity. On the other hand, a failure in urban design can lead to more poverty, insecurity and social ills.

The urban model of the last 50 years showed us the role of urbanization in accelerating development. However, the record is mixed. Some models have been successful in terms of economic development, but were less so in other areas such as environmental preservation and social cohesion.

In the coming decades, we have the opportunity and responsibility to get it right. It is encouraging that effective urban planning is a fundamental element of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 11 calls for making cities and urban settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It advocates for balance between the three pillars of sustainable development; economic, social and environmental. This places a high priority on the role of efficient urbanization as a tool for development.

A profound change of approach is required.

National urban policies are a good tool for framing the debate, consensus and strategies.

At the local level, there is a need to focus on strategic interventions to address local specificities, the needs of the people and the protection of the environment.

When managed well, the benefits of urbanization spread far beyond the boundaries of cities and towns and can even contribute significantly to rural development.

Vision 2063 — and the Sustainable Development Agenda — provide a pathway to the future we want for Africa and beyond.

Men and women, young and old, and vulnerable communities across the continent must have the opportunity they need to prosper. We can leave no one behind.

The UN Conference for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development -- Habitat III — which will take place in Quito, Ecuador, next year in October 2016, is an extraordinary opportunity to help shape the Urbanisation in Africa.

Leaders from around the world will discuss the New Urban Agenda — I hope to see you there.

Let us work together to ensure that development in the rapidly urbanizing Africa is a prosperous, equal and sustainable one.

Thank you very much for your commitment.