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FG demands urgent global action on sustainable urban development

Aerial view of Lagos

The Federal Government of Nigeria seeking urgent global action(s) capable of providing a sustainable solution to address the menace, in an effort to provide solutions to the multi-faceted problems associated with urbanisation in the country.

Among others, population explosion in these countries, coupled with the attendant socio-economic problems are the harbinger of crime, unemployment, poverty, hunger and general insecurity, which are issues confronting the developing countries.

Speaking at the just concluded Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat 111) Ecuador, Delivering the Nigerian Statement, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, noted that there it is an increasingly urgent necessity to provide secure and sustainable way of life for the 21st century population.

According to him, governments cannot afford to fail their people; neither can they afford to fail their peoples including the future generations, noting that such global action had become an increasingly urgent necessity if the 21st century was to provide a secure and sustainable way of life for the growing global population.

“The economic and health imperative to plan for people-cantered societies and sustainable cities is no longer a luxury, but an increasing urgent necessity if the 21stCentury is to provide a secure and sustainable way of life for the growing global population,” he said.

Acknowledging that it would not be easy to embark on any significant development given the rapid growing urban population, Fashola, who noted that there were inherent opportunities in the challenges of urbanization, added that with political will and with the New Urban Agenda as blueprint, the world could secure a sustainable future.

“It will not be an easy task, neither will the turn-around come quickly, but we strongly believe that through strengthened political will and intelligent planning, we can improve the lives of millions with the New Urban Agenda as our blueprint and road-map to a sustainable future,” he added.

Calling for the strengthening of UN-Habitat as the focal point for its effective implementation and review, the minister added, “we must collectively agree on the common principles that will guide our response to the challenges facing human settlements and ensure that we embark on a path of sustainable urbanization over the next two decades, as aptly captured in the New Urban Agenda.”

He also noted that the decisions arrived at the Ecuador Conference would have long-term consequences for cities, and their dwellers, as well as for the wider issues of human sustainability and the quality of life of future generations.

“Indeed, as the world waits in anticipation for the outcome of this landmark Conference, we cannot afford to fail our Nations. We cannot afford to fail our peoples. In fact, we must not fail the future generation.”

On the benefits and opportunities derivable from functional and sustainable urban centres, Fashola, who said they were already evident, pointed out that as crucial engines of growth for the economy and concentrations of activity and places of connectivity, creativity and innovation, “cities offer a multiplier effect for the development of their surrounding areas.

“Urbanisation can help to jump-start industrialization and manufacturing, which in turn can result in a host of other productive and economic development processes. The occurring rapid urbanization must therefore be exploited to unlock its economic potentials, and provide a solution for rapid transformation of our urban centres,” he said.

According to him, “this Habitat lll Conference presents this precise opportunity. It is for us a reminder, and a call to action on our obligations if our cities are to be properly positioned to play a meaningful role in achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and other internationally agreed instruments aimed at creating productive lives for the growing number of urban dwellers.

“Certainly, we owe humanity a responsibility to significantly step-up political commitments globally if we are to ensure a better quality of life – one that is dignified and productive- not only for all our citizens today, but especially for the generations to come, for whom we are merely holding the earth in trust.