On World Habitat Day, Ban Ki-moon calls for safer, greener cities

On World Habitat Day, Ban Ki-moon calls for safer, greener cities

With two-thirds of the human race expected to be urban dwellers by 2030, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked World Habitat Day with a call to make cities around the world safer, greener and more inclusive.

With two-thirds of the human race expected to be urban dwellers by 2030, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today marked World Habitat Day with a call to make cities around the world safer, greener and more inclusive.

“We are at the dawn of a new urban era,” Mr. Ban stated, noting that half of the world’s population now live in towns and cities.

Recalling this year’s theme for the Day – “a safe city is a just city” – he said surveys show that crime in urban areas is on the rise everywhere.

“And fear of crime is one of the most influential factors shaping our daily lives. In too many cities around the world, it dictates where we choose to live, shop, work and play,” he stated.

“This is bad for human progress and for economic development – especially in a world where for the first time the number of urban slum dwellers is set to top the one billion mark.”

Mr. Ban urged greater investment in children and young people, especially those at risk of becoming marginalized and turning to crime as an escape from the harsh realities of poverty and deprivation.

Noting that those living in slums and poor urban areas are particularly vulnerable as they lack security of tenure, utilities and health services, and are most at risk to disasters wrought by climate change, the Secretary-General encouraged city leaders to plan better for crime reduction, security of tenure and climate change mitigation.

He also called for stepping up efforts to be more energy-conscious. “Our cities are our biggest polluters, and require big, innovative thinking commensurate with their size.”