Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary -General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat addressed the Fifteenth Session of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD-15) at UN Headquarters in New York earlier today on the intersection of human settlements with the current CSD themes of energy for sustainable development; industrial development; air pollution/atmosphere; and Climate change. In her remarks, she clearly indicated the link between access to affordable, modern energy services as a prerequisite for achieving the Millennium Development goals (MDGs) and noted that the energy needs of the urban poor have not received the same attention as is being given to their rural counterparts. “It is widely assumed that because the urban poor reside in cities – close to the electricity grid and other modern energy sources such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) – that they have no energy challenges at all. But nothing could be further from the truth.” Noting that “proximity does not equal accessibility” she further suggested the urban poor also “pay more for their cooking fuel, heating, lighting and water and sanitation services than wealthier people connected to service networks.”
In the area of global climate change and the role of cities, she indicated that it is no coincidence that climate change has become a leading international development issue precisely at the same time the world has become predominantly urban. “This is because how we plan, manage and operate and consume energy in our cities is the key driver behind climate change. Of the global energy consumption, 75% occurs in cities and 80% of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions emanate from cities. Indeed, climate change and urbanization are inseparable. And if cities are part of the problem, they are therefore inevitably part of the solution.”
The CSD-15 concludes this week.