Transcript of a video message from
Director-General of UNESCO
on the occasion of the Shanghai World Expo 2010
How can we create sustainable, inclusive and creative cities in today’s urban age?
This is a huge challenge: more than half of the world’s population lives in cities today. The numbers keep growing, as people migrate from the countryside in search of opportunities. How can their expectations be met? What vision should we have for the city of the future?
At UNESCO, we believe that the future of our cities depends upon our ability to work and live together sustainably and in peace. This is not only a question of good urban amenities: policy makers also need to take fully into account migration, integration, cultural diversity, environmental management and the protection of natural resources.
The provision of equal access to social services is crucial, not only as a matter of social justice, but also as an essential contribution to the sustainability of our urban environments. City-dwellers must be able to count on equal access to quality education, to a sustainable urban water supply, to greener, more efficient energy and to a full spectrum of cultural activities that acknowledges and embraces diversity.
I believe we need to humanize cities by fostering sustainable urban development for all. Everyone, irrespective of background, should have access to the whole range of opportunities that cities offer.
At the same time, as rapid urbanisation transforms the cultural and social fabric of communities, people also have to change certain mind-sets in order to learn to live together. We need to view cultural diversity as an advantage for the communities we live in. We can and must meet this challenge, each of us individually, and all of us together, in our towns and cities.