Barcelona's Mayor Joan Clos met with Mr. Lars Reutersward, Director of UN-HABITAT's Global Division last week to discuss the World Urban Forum, a major United Nations meeting, which will be hosted by the Mayor during the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004.
This will be the second time that UN-HABITAT, the United Nations agency dealing with urbanization, is organizing the World Urban Forum, a bi-ennial event. The main theme of this World Urban Forum, which takes place from 13-17 September 2004, is Cities: Crossroads of Cultures and Integration? The meeting will bring together thousands of participants from local and central governments, civil society, academic and professional institutions, and the private sector, and will seek to forge solutions to some of the most challenging issues facing our cities today including poverty, water, social exclusion, urban disasters and urban governance.
|Major Joan Clos (middle) with Lars Reutersward and Joseph Mungai of UN-HABITAT|
During the week of the World Urban Forum, UN-HABITAT will launch its flagship report: The State of the World's Cities. Published every two years, this authoritative reference report presents the latest research, including urban statistics, on cities around the world. The Dubai International Award for Best Practices, established by the Municipality of Dubai in 1995, will also be given for initiatives that have made outstanding contributions to improving the quality of life in cities and communities.
The World Urban Forum is one of the culminating events in the Urban Forum of Cultures in Barcelona, which consists of a wide range of events including international conferences, exhibitions and concerts. The city of Barcelona is building a huge centre for these activities on over 200 hectares of land, part of which has been reclaimed from the sea. Mayor Clos described the project as a good model of environment conservation and sustainability in an urban setting. For instance, solar panels and natural gas will provide 40 per cent of the power needs, the treatment of sewage is being improved in the plant over which part of the Forum centre is being built, and better filtration of polluted water running from the city to the sea has already resulted in regeneration of animal life in the beaches next to the centre. The citizens of this relatively poor part of the city will also benefit from the rehabilitation of the area.
In addition to the World Urban Forum, UN-HABITAT and the city of Barcelona are organizing several events from May to September involving urban youth from around the world to highlight the important role that youth play in cities. These events, which include graffiti exhibition and music concerts, show the creativity of urban youth, and through them, we learn about the problems facing young people in cities today.