It was a joyous closing ceremony that only the fun loving Neapolitans could pull off.
At exactly 11.26 local time Italy's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Staffani di Mistura symbolically banged the hammer bringing to a close the Sixth Session of World Urban Forum. And many in the audience could connect with him when he said: It is with joy and a tinge of sadness that I declare the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum closed."
The closing ceremony saw the recepients of this year's Scroll of Honour Awards called to the podium to receive their diadems. Also being feted were Habitat Award Winners.
However, spontaneously as the ceremony was going on a group of volunteers- the ones who lent great support to the event- burst into song and dance.
In a perfect choreography, as the huge screen in the Teatro Mediterano Hall showed images from UN-Habitat's 'I'm a City Changer' campaign, the volunteers started doing a jig. The choice of the song was perfect for they danced to 'The Man in the Mirror', a classic by the late American pop idol Michael Jackson. Some of the lines of the song go thus…
I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror…I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have…Been Any Clearer If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place…(If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And…Then Make A Change
These are the lines the volunteers- and a section of the audience- sang and danced to as they made their way to the podium to shake hands with the dignitaries seated there including Mr. Di Mistura, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos and his deputy Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira.
The President of the UN-Habitat Governing Council Mr. Albert Inzengiumba appealed to political leaders to pay more than lip service if the urban future was to be a reality. The president, who is also Rwanda's Minister for Housing was optimistic that achieving the urban future.
In his address, UNEP Executive Director Dr. Achim Steiner said his organization was committed to working with UN-Habitat to achieve sustainable urbanization. "Issues of ustainable urbanization, lessening poverty and such related issues can only be tackled jointly and not in isolation," he said.
Dr. Kirabo appealed to the delegates to go back to their respective countries and reinvigorate the National Forums saying they were the best avenues for addressing urbanization issues.
At this juncture, the next host of the urban forum, the city of Medellin gave a video presentation of what the country and the city had to offer. This was followed by address by the mayor Mr. Anibal Gaviria Correa who said that the past image of his country as violence rocked was one thing he wanted erased from peole's minds.
Dr. Clos said urbanization was going through hard times and that innovative ways needed be devised to address the issue.
"At UN-Habitat we have enough professionals and general service staff who can offer their expertise to local authorities whenever called upon," he said.
A dance troupe from Colombia brought the curtain down with a salsa dance, giving the audience of a taste of what to expect in Medellin.