U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said this week he will lead a high-level delegation to the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro because it is an historic opportunity to shape the forces of urbanization for a healthier, more inclusive future for our cities and metropolitan regions.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington on Monday, Mr. Donovan described the Forum as an “important moment” in the quest for a more sustainable global future for generations to come.
President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva of Brazil is scheduled to open the fifth session of the World Urban Forum being hosted in Rio de Janeiro 22-26 March.
“Indeed the U.S. delegation to the World Urban Forum, which I’m honoured to head, relishes this chance to listen, learn and share our own lessons from the laboratories of change that are our metropolitan areas,” Mr. Donovan said.
“Together we can seize this historic opportunity before us to shape the forces of urbanization, creating a healthier, more inclusive future for our cities and metropolitan regions, and charging a more sustainable global future for generations to come,” he said.
The high-level US delegation joining Secretary Donovan in Rio de Janeiro includes the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Deputy Secretary Ron Sims, Assistant Secretaries Raphael Bostic, Mercedes Marquez, and John Trasvina.
The White House will be represented by Adolfo Carrion, Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs.
The Department of State will be represented by Under Secretary Maria Otero, who joined Mr. Donovan and Mr. Carrion at Monday’s press briefing, as well as Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer and Special Representative Esther Lewis. Officials said they also expected the delegtation to include representatives of the U.S. Agency of International Development, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“As our delegation prepares to join world leaders and policy makers in Brazil next week, for the first time in the history of our civilization more than half of the world’s population lives in cities,” Mr. Donovan said.
He said that the Obama Administration understands that the United States has an enormous stake in ensuring that countries across the globe usher in a new era of sustainable economic growth and development as well - opening new markets for green technology in American products; reversing the effects of global warming; and perhaps most importantly, ensuring that billions of families live not in despair, but in communities of choice, opportunity and hope.
“That’s why last year we hosted for the first time ever World Habitat Day. If we fail to live up to this global responsibility, the impact is clear for America’s economy and security alike,” he said.
Click here for a full transcript of the media briefing.