"Culture has to be integrated deeply into development at the municipal level" says the Director-General while taking part in the 6th World Urban Forum
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated in the High-Level Inter-Agency Meeting entitled “The opportunity of urbanization in the 21st Century: the role of the United Nations” and highlighted that cities are the greatest motors of dynamism, growth, innovation and "living together", while making the most of our diversity.
The objective of the interagency meeting, chaired by Juan Clos, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNHABITAT, and attended by senior representatives of DESA, FAO, ILO, IMF, UNDP, UNICEF, UNWOMEN, WB, and WHO amongst others, was to forge stronger partnership among UN agencies in a concerted effort to address shared urban development challenges.
The meeting underlined the growing role of cities as laboratories of creativity and innovation but also as sources of inequalities, poverty and social tensions. The challenges of planning, infrastructure, environment and the sharing of resources were further emphasized.
The Director-General underscored the diversity of situations and the need for a city-specific response: "Cities are key actors for peace and development in this century. They are economic actors and major job providers but also natural places to build peace through solidarity and intercultural exchange".
Actively protecting and fostering the strengths of urban centres, while preventing and managing the negative effects of urbanization was noted as a vital opportunity for the UN system to achieve its overarching development goals.
The Director-General further underscored that tangible and intangible heritage are sources of social cohesion, factors of enrichment through diversity and drivers of creativity, innovation and urban regeneration.
The meeting offered the opportunity to discuss competencies held by each UN agency to inform the design of coordinated intervention as a starting point for a Habitat III (to be held in 2016), marking the launch of a new urban agenda, the “Twenty-first Century Urban Agenda”.