Seven issues, seven experts – Dr. Clos on cities

UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos was selected as a leading United Nations expert to talk about cities as one of seven key topics under consideration at the global Rio +20 Sustainable Development Summit opening on Wednesday.

His remarks were widely broadcast on the eve of the gathering at which more than 100 Heads of State and Government, along with thousands of parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, chief executive officers and civil society leaders will shape new policies to promote prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.

In the United Nations Seven Issues,Seven Experts series, UN officials explain the key topics of importance being discussed and how we can contribute to make our planet more sustainable.

In the fifth installment, the UN News Centre spoke with Dr. Clos who explained why rapidly growing cities can be an asset for countries if they know how to plan in advance for urbanization.

"The most important contribution that people can make is to ask their local governments to prepare their city for the next wave of population growth, and then plan for enlargement in the existing layout of the city," he said. "We are promoting a campaign, which is called Iam a city changer. I think this is very important - to raise awareness in the general public that our cities are going to grow, and that this growth should be planned."

In New York, on the eve of the Rio summit, Member States of the United Nations announced that they have reached an agreement on the outcome document.

"We now have a text which will be adopted at theConference," Rio+20's Secretary-General, Mr. Sha Zukang, said in a statement."We think the text contains a lot of action, and if this action is implemented,and if follow-up measures are taken, it will indeed make a tremendous difference in generating positive global change."

On Friday, the responsibility of the negotiations was handed over to the Brazilian Government, which holds the Presidency of Rio+20.Delegations worked on the consolidated text presented by the South American nation until late last night, before announcing their agreement onTuesday.

Mr. Sha stressedt hat since the document is the result of intensive and prolonged negotiations,it is a "compromise text," in which countries have had to both give and take to achieve progress.

"Like all negotiations, there will be some countries that feel the text could be more ambitious. Or, others who feel their own proposals could be better reflected,while still others might prefer to have their own language," he said. "But,let's be clear: multilateral negotiations require give and take."

The text will now be put forward for adoption by Heads of State at the conclusion of Rio+20 on Friday.