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Delegates Stress Global Development Goal

Delegates Stress Global Development Goal

Stressing the need for investment in efforts to reach global development goals as a means to end poverty, one of the key speakers at the United Nations ><"http://www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/default.asp">World Urban Forum III called on delegates not to let to our leaders off the hook," while others highlighted the need for better planning as a means of improving city life in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Investment in the Millennium Development Goals (<"http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/">MDGs) is an investment in your own future. We are the first generation with the resources and the knowledge to end poverty, said Evelyn Herfkens, Executive Coordinator of the UN Millennium Campaign, referring to the set of eight targets for tackling poverty, illiteracy and other global ills by 2015.

"Don't let our leaders off the hook," she stressed, while waving a copy of a new brochure on the Goals published with <"http://www.unhabitat.org/">UN-HABITAT the agency that aims to achieve sustainable development of human settlements.

The brochure contains guidelines on how rich and poor countries, at the government and municipal levels, can apply the Goals to their urban planning strategies and Ms. Herfkens urged all delegates to use them.

Also focusing on better urban planning, Enrique Peñalosa, the former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, told delegates that cities would save a lot of money if the use of cars was restricted or even banned during peak hours, and this measure would also improve the quality of city life.

He <"http://www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/wuf_story11.asp">said that projections showed that the world's urban populations would grow by more than 2 billion people in the next 30 years: the equivalent of one city the size of Vancouver, Canada where the Forum is taking place – every week.

Chris Leach, President of the Canadian Institute of Planners, said the World Planners Congress that met earlier in the week had laid the groundwork for a new Global Planners Network to confront the problems of rapid urbanization, the urbanization of poverty, and the hazards of climate change and natural disasters.

In a related development, <"http://www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006/wuf_story10.asp">UN-HABITAT said it had signed an agreement with Sri Lanka’s Government yesterday targeting slum upgrading in the Asian nation.

Also in the drive to improve the quality of urban living, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (<"http://www.fao.org">FAO) said that urban forestry initiatives can help offset the environmental, economic and health risks posed by rapid urbanization and poverty.

“In addition to the aesthetic value offered by urban forestry, trees and other greenery can make a significant contribution to food security, well-being, health and also improve the quality of life by diversifying household incomes,” <"http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000340/index.html">said FAO forestry expert Michelle Gauthier in a press release.

The economic benefits are numerous, FAO says, highlighting that tree cover reduces air temperature, resulting in energy savings for city dwellers, and trees can increase property values and protect roads and buildings against landslide, flood and sand encroachment.

Ends

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