09 September 2005
New York, USA:
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today stressed that cities and local authorities have a critical role to play in global progress in education, hunger, health, water, sanitation, gender equality and other areas of the development agenda to be discussed at next week's World Summit.
"Ultimately it is in the streets of your cities and towns that the value of what's decided here will be tested," he said to the mayors and other local representatives attending the United Cities and Local Governments Summit at UN headquarters in New York. "It is there, in the daily lives of your citizens, in their safety and security, in their prosperity and sense of opportunity, that our progress will be most visible, and our setbacks felt most keenly."
"While our Goals are global," he added, "they can most effectively be achieved through action at local level."
Calling the present era "the urban millennium," Mr. Annan noted that urban centres of the developing world are engines of economic growth but also reservoirs of poverty so large that one out of every six people on earth now lives in a slum or squatter settlement.
Indeed, he said, half the world's people now live in cities and towns and in the next 30 years virtually all of the world's population growth will occur in the urban areas of low- and middle-income countries. "How we manage that growth will go a long way toward influencing the world's future peace and prosperity," he said.