China pledges to promote global cooperation to build sustainable cities

by Mao Pengfei, Hao Yunfu

QUITO, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- China will strive to promote global cooperation to help build sustainable cities, a senior Chinese official said Monday.

"China is committed to actively participating in and promoting the process of sustainable urbanization," Chen Zhenggao, China's minister of housing and urban-rural development, told the third United Nations (UN) Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, or Habitat III, held in Ecuador's capital of Quito.

The meeting, which will end on Thursday, aims to put together a new urban development agenda to address urban sprawl and inequity.

Beijing will work toward "the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda in China to continue to improve the quality of human settlements," said Chen.

To that end, China will "strive to create harmonious, livable, vibrant and unique modern cities, so that people live a better life," added Chen.

Abroad, China "will continue to strengthen international cooperation in the area of human settlements and support the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) and other UN agencies in their efforts to implement the 2030 sustainable development goals and the New Urban Agenda," said the minister.

China has compiled the so-called "Shanghai Manual," which"presents a wide range of good practices in urbanization worldwide," UN-Habitat recently said on its website, adding the manual is to be launched in Quito.

In July, Executive Director of UN-Habitat Joan Clos traveled to China, where he met with Chen and "complimented the achievements of China with regard to planned urbanization, which has generated many experiences that are valuable for other developing countries," the UN agency said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who presided over the opening ceremony of Habitat III along with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, said the success of the New Urban Agenda "will depend on the collaboration of all countries and all stakeholders."

"The New Urban Agenda that you will adopt here reflects the broad participation of governments and all urban actors. It will set global standards for sustainable urban development and help us to rethink how we build, manage and live in cities," Ban said.

At the time of Habitat I -- the first UN conference on human settlements -- in 1976, around 40 percent of global population lived in cities. Now the proportion has reached 54 percent and is expected to reach 66 percent by 2050, according to the United Nations.

Rapid urbanization has greatly reshaped human society. However, the "level of planned organization has decreased and the quality of the planning has also decreased," said Clos ahead of the Quito meeting.

Ban echoed Clos' words, saying: "Urban areas are expanding rapidly, especially in developing countries, and that expansion is frequently unplanned. Approximately a quarter of urban dwellers live in slums or informal settlements."

It is clear that transforming the world for the better means transforming towns and cities, Ban said, calling for better urban governance, planning and design as well as more investment in adequate and affordable housing, quality infrastructure and basic services.

"We need a global partnership for sustainable development, encompassing national, regional and local authorities acting in concert with development partners, businesses, investors and communities," Ban said. Enditem

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]


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