In a lead-up to the third session of the World Urban Forum (WUF), to be held in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2006, UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with IBM and the Canadian Government is holding what it hopes will be the world's biggest Internet discussion to date from 1-3 December 2005.
Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, and Mr. Charles Kelly, the Commissioner General of the next World Urban Forum officially launched the so-called Habitat JAM in London on Friday 4 November 2005. There were also regional launches, including one in Nairobi on Thursday.
Sponsored by the Government of Canada, in partnership with UN-HABITAT and IBM, the Habitat JAM promises to give thousands of global citizens, rich and poor alike, a chance to present their ideas on-line for presentation at the Forum, which is held every two years to discuss ways of managing urban development sustainably in a rapidly urbanising world. To ensure the most inclusive event possible, grass roots organizations, institutions, women’s and youth groups and NGOs are helping people without access to computers share their views with others around the world.
“Canada is pleased to partner with UN-HABITAT and IBM to introduce this experimental form of problem solving – a dialogue that cuts across the borders and silos of politics, culture, economics, social class and expertise, to extract concrete solutions to the urgent and controversial issues facing our rapidly urbanizing planet,” said Mr. Joe Fontana, Canadian Minister of Labour and Housing. “The Government of Canada is proud to host this event because Canada recognizes the enormous impact of urbanization on the sustainability of the planet.”
Topics for the online debate include improving the lives of people living in slums, access to water, environmental sustainability, safety and urban crime, finance and governance, and the future of our cities.
"We live in an increasingly urban world which is unfortunately divided between the North and the South. What is worse is that in most cities, wherever they are, people are forced to live in divided cities,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said. “Cities in developing countries are suffering from problems associated with rapid urbanization, which has led to over one billion people living in slums without adequate shelter and basic services. In developed countries, citizens suffer from the effects of ill-planned cities and environmental degradation. At the heart of this crisis is a failure to consult and to allow the full participation of ordinary people in the development of the city. It is my hope that innovative technologies associated with Habitat JAM will help bring people closer together to plan and develop truly human settlements.”
The Habitat JAM aims to engage academics and students, planners and builders, politicians, governments, the private sector and ordinary citizens around the world in a 72-hour problem-solving session on the Internet moderated by government leaders, renowned experts, and key thinkers. See also: Jam Site