Speaking at a presidential dialogue on the African Urban Agenda at United Nations Headquarters in New York, Friday, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, addressed the leaders of several African countries and highlighted the importance of effective urban planning as a vital tool for development.
“Africa is the most rapidly urbanizing region of the world,” said the Secretary-General. “Two-thirds of Africa`s projected total population of 2.5 billion people will require urban services by 2063. And Africa needs to be ready,” he urged.
Thanking the assembled dignitaries for their “leadership and commitment to the African urban agenda,” Mr. Ban said that urbanization, if managed well, could be a powerful engine to aid sustainable development, while “a failure in urban design can lead to more poverty, insecurity and social ills.”
“The urban model of the last 50 years showed us the role of urbanization in accelerating development,” said Mr. Ban. “However, the record is mixed. Some models have been successful in terms of economic development, but were less so in other areas such as environmental preservation and social cohesion.”
He added that, with the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 11, there is a chance to encourage effective urban planning, and make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, and develop efficient urbanization as a tool for development.
The Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of the UN Conference for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, also known as Habitat III , which is set to take place in Quito, Ecuador, in October next year, calling it “an extraordinary opportunity to help shape the urbanization in Africa.”
The African Urban Agenda, an initiative launched by UN-Habitat, aims at raising the profile of urbanization as an imperative for development in Africa.