Mayors and urban planning experts from around the globe will head to San Francisco next month for World Environment Day, where they plan to exchange ideas and sign a slate of United Nations-backed accords on environmental actions for cities.
The signing of the ground-breaking actions, collectively referred to as the Urban Environmental Accords – Green Cities Declaration, will be the highlight of the UN Environmental Programme's (UNEP) World Environment Day celebration, taking place from 1 to 5 June in San Francisco.
World Environment Day celebrations have been hosted by a different city since 1987. This is the first time the event takes place in the United States and it is most fitting that San Francisco – the birth place of the UN 60 years ago – should be this year's venue, the agency says.
With just over half of the world's people now living in cities, urban populations consume 75 per cent of the world's natural resources and produce 75 per cent of its waste. The Urban Environmental Accords cover seven environmental categories that cities can address to enable sustainable urban living and improve the quality of life for city dwellers: energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health and water.
The Accords also lay out 21 practical actions cities can take to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, or the health of the planet.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said: "It is up to cities in the developed world to set an example in areas such as the efficient use of energy and water. And it is incumbent upon them to partner developing world cities so they do not take a short-term 'dirty' development path, but a long-term sustainable one.
"If this can be done, we can help realize the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, and in doing so rid the world of poverty – the most toxic element of all," he added.
In addition to Mr. Toepfer, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former US Vice President Al Gore and mayors from around 60 cities are expected to attend the festivities.