The Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum drew to a close in Rio de Janeiro on Friday with speakers hailing it as the most successful one ever staged.
According to available statistics, some 13,718 participants from 150 countries around the world attended the Session. Secretary of State Mrs. Hilary Clinton of the United States was full of praises for the Forum saying it was a unique venue where people from different backgrounds shared ideas on how to cope with the challenges of urbanization.
Mrs. Clinton who addressed the closing ceremony via a video message said the work of UN-HABITAT in addressing urbanization challenges was crucial adding that there was a greater need to foster private public partnerships in addressing those challenges.
In her speech, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka challenged the Forum participants to think long and hard on the kind of future they wanted to leave behind for the generations to come.
“How will our world look in just two generations to come when it is projected that 70 percent of humanity will be living in towns and cities? What percentage will continue to live in abject poverty? How much dirtier will cities make our planet? As we also learned this week, the means to bridge the urban divide are not lacking. We must, however, muster the political will to make our cities fit for our children, and the time to act is now!,” she said.
Mrs. Tibaijuka who leaves UN-HABITAT later this year at the end of a her second term at the helm, said she was walking away with her head high having managed to give the agency a footing, as requested of her by the former UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan when he first appointed her to the post.
In his address, Brazil’s Minister for Cities Mr. Marcio Fortes said the success of the meeting could be gauged in the fact that most of the time, the meeting rooms were turning away some participants because of being fully packed.
During the occasion, the government of Bahrain, the hosts of the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum in 2012, gave a presentation highlighting what delegates at the meeting are to be offered.