The landmark Manifesto for Cities, a document representing the consensus of all partners engaged in promoting the Habitat Agenda was launched Monday at the ongoing Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum.
The launch was done at a special session of the World Urban Campaign and attended by among others, Mr. Dougal Thomson, Head of Conference, The Economist Group, Mr. Edinilson Ferreira Dos Santos, Youth Advisory Board nominee, Brazil, Ms. Lucinda Hartley, Youth Advisory Board nominee, Australia and Mr. Henry Duncan Dama Phoya, Minister of Lands and Housing, Malawi.
Others were Mr. Luigi de Magistris, Mayor of Naples, Italian, Mr. Anibal Gaviria, Mayor of Medellin, Colombian, Mr. Tariq Kabbage, Mayor of Agadir, and Morocco and Mr. Nicholas You, Chair, World Urban Campaign.
The World Urban Campaign is the partners platform for the preparation of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in 2016.
During this session, the participants were reminded that for cities to maximize opportunities, there was need for strong partnerships. All speakers expressed their commitment to the Manifesto from their specific perspectives. Youth represent a tremendous creative force for the future. They made a plea for their inclusion and appealed for intergenerational linking for change. Expressing the urban challenges ahead, particularly in Africa, the Housing Minister of Malawi, Mr. Henry Duncan Dama Phoya supported the Manifesto and emphasized the importance of pulling knowledge and ideas towards an agenda for sustainable urbanization, empowering local authorities and promoting good governance. The Mayors of Naples, Medellin and Agadir provided examples of positive changes in their respective cities. A particular attention was given to the importance of public space to enhance social cohesion, safety and livability. Representatives of women organizations pointed out the relative disadvantage of women in cities but also the importance of their contributions to solutions. The Manifesto was supported by the Habitat Gender Advisory Board.
In a panel discussion, the Word Urban Campaign partners shared their view on the most important messages of the Manifesto. They converged on the positive role of cities to shape our future. Cities have the potential for inclusive development. However, this requires improved governance across all levels involving all stakeholders.
Parliamentarians too have a strong role to play to support change through laws and policies, in particular to empower the local level and the citizens.
Professionals can promote building and planning practices for better cities, where people are the focus.
The private sector also strongly supported the Manifesto, recognizing that business highly depends on the sustainability of cities. Cities provides workforce, market and innovation. Civil society organizations reminded that the Manifesto should be translated into concrete actions directly involving citizens. All partners emphasized the importance of reducing inequalities. Finally the Manifesto was recognized as the first steps towards defining a new Global Urban Agenda towards Habitat III.