WUFIII Sheds Spotlight on Impact of Rapid Urbanization July 2006
Number 93 July 4, 2006
Housing Again Bulletin
sponsored by Raising the Roof as a partner in Housing Again.
The Third Session of the World Urban Forum closed on June 23 in the City of Vancouver. During the conference, a picture emerged that more than half the world’s urban population lives in slums. If the trend continues, that number will increase to two-thirds by 2050. And in the next 50 years, urban populations are expected to reach two-thirds of the global population.
“The event was an amazing opportunity to network with people from around the world,” said Raising the Roof Past President Jocelyn Greene, who traveled from Newfoundland to attend the conference. “The statistics were staggering and very illuminating. The growing urbanization has caused real challenges for cities - the need is urgent for them to get it right.”
The event also challenged delegates to find ways to make cities environmentally friendly and create a sense of place. It drew attention to unique ways to develop urban agriculture such as green roofs and the importance of green space especially as people move out of rural areas, Greene told Housing Again.
More than 10,000 people from around the world attended the free forum, which is held every two years by the United Nations to examine rapid urbanization. In his opening address, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke about the federal government’s commitment to making cities sustainable while building safe neighbourhoods. “Another key to a safe and successful urban environment is affordable housing,” he said.
Most of this urban growth is taking place in developing countries where the major challenge is to combat poverty and provide better access to basic shelter and services, like clean water and sanitation. Cities in wealthier nations, however, also face problems of urbanization—like crumbling infrastructure, smog and social exclusion. All municipal leaders share the challenge of finding solutions to alleviate poverty in cities, reduce pollution and facilitate sustainable urban growth and development.
Greene used the opportunity while in Vancouver to tour various housing developments and saw first hand the real challenges cities are facing.
“The difference between the haves and the have nots was particularly disturbing—a wake up call for sure,” she said. “I certainly came away with lots to think about.”
At the conference, long-time housing advocate Michael Shapcott co-chaired a roundtable on affordable housing, as well as an on-line discussion prior to the conference. Representatives from cities across B.C. also presented their innovative approaches to homelessness.
For more information: www.bcnpha.bc.ca/pages/SCPI.htm
For more information about UNHABITAT: www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/default.asp