Aguascalientes – This was the stark message from UN-HABITAT, at the Global Observance of World Habitat Day, held this year in Aguascalientes, Mexico on Monday 3 October.
Hosted by the Government of Mexico the day’s events took place at the prestigious Descubre Museum and were attended by the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. Other speakers included: the Governor of the Aguascalientes State, Carlos Lozano de la Torre; the Secretary of Social Development, Heriberto Félix Guerra; and UN Undersecretary General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Dr. Joan Clos.
This year’s theme, Cities and Climate Change, was chosen because climate change is fast becoming the preeminent development challenge of the 21st century while, at the same time, our world is becoming increasingly urban. Indeed, no-one today can really foresee the predicament in which a town or city will find itself in 10, 20 or 30 years time.
Speaking at the opening, President Calderón said: “Climate Change is a fact and is already here. Cities have to take actions to face it. It is not only the responsibility of developed countries, but the responsibility should be shared. Mexico has decided to take this responsibility and we are doing it through best practices in our cities.”
Also speaking to the nearly 2,500 participants at the event, UN Under-Secretary General and UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Joan Clos, emphasised the effects of climate change. “There could be as many as 200 million migrants due to climate change in the next 40 years, with up to 12 million coming from Latin America,” he said.
“To face climate change we need to overhaul the current urban pattern in our cities because it is not environmentally and economically sustainable for the 21st Century,” he continued. “We should work to create urban extensions in intermediate cities that will help us to plan proper public spaces and basic urban services, such as transport and efficient energy…There is a path for the compact, equitable and integrated city.”
Keeping with tradition, the day’s programme also included the presentation of the Scroll of Honour Award by UN- HABITAT, World Habitat Awards by the Building and Social Housing Foundation and national awards by the Mexican authorities. These awards recognise contributions by actors, both state and non-governmental, around the world to bettering the lives of our growing urban population.
Other celebrations marking the day will take place in scores of cities around the world such as Kisumu, Kenya; Tehran, Iran; and Toronto, Canada, to name a few. The world’s newest country, South Sudan, will mark its first World Habitat Day as an independent state with a street procession and exhibitions on informal settlement upgrading.
For more information about World Habitat Day or to arrange an interview, please contact: Public Information Officer, Mobile in Mexico: (+52 55) 4936 0020, Tel: (+254 20) 7623151, 7625518; Fax: (254 20 ) 7624060: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Webiste: www.unhabitat.org/whd