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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2013-10-07 16:25:46
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World Habitat Day focuses on improved urban resilience, mobility

October 07, 2013 - Cities must boost efforts to become more resilient to natural disasters as well as provide their citizens with methods of alternative transportation to thrive, the United Nations chief said on Friday. “As the effects of climate change increase, urban resilience becomes ever more necessary,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at an event at the UN headquarters in New York to mark World Habitat Day, observed on Monday, Oct. 7. “All actors need to work together to save lives, protect assets and guarantee services when disasters strike. Planning is essential,” he said. Ban noted that the humanitarian and economic cost of natural disasters is mounting, with natural hazards having killed some 1.1 million people since 2000. Since then, more than 2.7 billion have been affected and the economic cost is estimated at $1.3 trillion. “The poor, who are hit first and worst, have the least means to recover,” Ban stressed, adding that urban resilience is a sustainable development priority. He also emphasized that improving urban mobility, this year’s theme for the Day, is crucial for a city’s development. “Getting mobility right can mean the difference between a struggling city and a thriving one,” Ban said, adding, “Mobility is not a question of building wider or longer roads.” “ It is about providing appropriate and efficient systems that serve the most people in the best, most equitable manner.” Alternative methods of transportation such as bicycles, buses and trains, can help tackle pollution and congestion, provide transport for those who cannot afford it, and benefit those who do not use cars due to impracticality such as the elderly and persons with disabilities. Increasing well-lit sidewalks for pedestrians will also addresses the issue of safety, which is of particular concern for women, young persons and minorities. Improved mobility can regenerate urban centres, boost productivity and make a city attractive for all users – from investors to visitors and residents, Ban said. The UN has dedicated the first Monday in October to World Habitat Day, to recognize the basic need for adequate shelter in a world where it is lacking for so many.


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