Press Releases

          14 September 2004

    World’s Cities Must Become Genuine Examples of Inclusiveness, Equity, Says Secretary-General in Message to Barcelona Urban Forum

    NEW YORK, 13 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the World Urban Forum, delivered by Mervat Tallawy, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in Barcelona, 13 September:

    In a world beset by conflict and intolerance, the World Urban Forum’s focus on culture could not be more relevant. Globalization continues to bring countries and people ever closer together.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world’s cities, where we now cross paths and rub elbows with people from many other cultural backgrounds.

    Cities have long been recognized as engines of economic growth. They are also places where cultures meet, fuse and interact, in the best of cases enriching each other and educating all about the world’s wondrous diversity.  Standing astride virtually every global intersection -- of trade, migration, communication and ideas -- the world’s cities must become genuine examples of inclusiveness and equity, as called for in the Millennium Declaration.  Otherwise, they will remain reservoirs of poverty and potential flashpoints of conflict -- and ultimately, barriers to advancing the human condition.

    Cities also have a long history of sharing experiences across borders, and of using city-to-city collaboration and exchanges to promote global harmony and international cooperation for development. Today, that kind of diplomacy is just as important internally as it has been externally. A globalizing world of movement and migration brings with it fears and tensions, which governments and local authorities can overcome only with sensitivity and skill.  Only by bringing all communities and all citizens, new and old, into the development process and into the halls of urban governance as full partners, will we stand a chance of achieving sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. That message is at the heart of the Habitat Agenda.

    I urge you to intensify your diplomatic efforts by working with your fellow citizens and local authorities across the world, and within your borders, too, by fostering cooperation among your often disparate communities. By bringing together so many of the key actors in sustainable urban development, the World Urban Forum can help move us toward this goal. I would like to thank UN-HABITAT for initiating and co-organizing this forum; the city of Barcelona, the Government of Spain and people of Catalonia for hosting this event; and most of all the participants for their commitment to this cause.  Please accept my best wishes for the success of your dialogues, discussions and deliberations.

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