At exactly 10.36 a.m. local time, Italy’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Staffani di Mistura symbolically banged a hammer on the table to officially open the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum currently underway in Naples, Italy.
To a loud applause from the audience gathered in the Auditorium Europa Mr. di Mistura promised that his country would strive to give the delegates all the necessary assistance in order to have a successful meeting.
The elaborate opening ceremony was marked by speeches from both Italian leaders and United Nations top brass as well as cultural performance by the San Carlos Theatre.
In a message read on his behalf by the Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon reiterated the call made by world leaders at the recent Rio +20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro for greater attention to be paid to cities.
The Secretary-General recalled that world leaders gathered for the Rio +20 summit in June had pledged their backing for UN-Habitat and the need to keep urban affairs high on the global agenda.
“We can usher in the future we want by heeding the Rio + 20 call for an integrated approach to sustainable cities that better supports local authorities and involves the public, especially the poor, in decision-making,” he said.
Mr. Stefano Caldoro, President of the Campania Region, Mr. Luigi Cesaro, President of the Province of Naples, and the city’s mayor, Mr. Luigi de Magistris, all welcomed delegates to Naples Forum gathered to discuss the theme, The urban future.
Getting down to the business of the Forum, UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos said in his keynote address that proper urban planning was absolutely vital if the world is going to manage the fast urbanisation experienced in history.
The world's population has now grown to 7 billion, and the coming two decades of will be unprecedented moment in human history: This global population will grow from 50 per cent urban today, to 70 per cent.
“The world is faced with many challenges including environmental and financial crises. Another new challenge is the increasing poverty in the world’s urban areas both in developed and developing countries. This is one area we must urgently address,” he said.
Dr. Clos said the challenge of urbanisation was yet another area that required serious redress saying that the alternative of sitting back and doing nothing would see the world’s urban centres facing serious slum problems.
“There is no alternative but to face the challenge head on,” he declared.
In his address, the Vice President of the Republic of Comoros Mr. Nourdine Bourhane said his government had deliberately undertaken to provide cities with strategic management tools to help them in achieving sustainable development.