UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka this week joined an array of government ministers, mayors and other urban leaders for the Singapore International Water Week and the World Cities Summit to discuss leadership, governance and new ways of building sustainable green cities.
“It has been most important to keep closely in touch with our global network of urban partners in governments and municipal offices, hundreds of non-governmental organizations, schools, universities, and companies which strive for smarter, sustainable cities,” she said in a keynote address at the opening plenary on Tuesday.
Conference officials said the second biennial World Cities Summit (WCS) in Singapore had attracted 25 ministers and 45 mayors and governors from 20 countries, including China and Australia.
Mrs. Tibaijuka, who said she hoped the meeting would feed into the World Urban Forum process, shared the podium at the opening debate with a group of leaders including Mr. Jumaa Al Kaabi, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture of Bahrain which will host the next session of the Forum in 2012.
She cited Singapore’s veteran leader, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew “for his vision in turning this great city into one of the world’s models when it comes to leadership, governance, and I will add, sustainability.”
The debate chaired by Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large Mr. Tommy Koh, also heard addresses by Mr. Mah Bow Tan, Minister for National Development of Singapore; Mr. Wim Kuijken, Government Commissioner for the Delta programme in The Netherlands; Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission (ESCAP); Mr. Huang Qifan, Mayor of the Chinese city of Chongqing; and two private sector CEOs, Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, of Toray Industries in India, and Mr. Amitabh Kant, of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation.
Meetings at the summit examined the role of leadership in building and managing sustainable cities; balancing economic and urban development with the needs of the environment; conditions needed to foster inclusive and harmonious cities; and long-term visions to create liveable and sustainable cities.
Singapore was also the venue of a series of high-level specialist Expert Panel Sessions for government representatives, policy makers and specific industry experts to discuss the challenges and solutions faced by cities around the world in greater detail, covering areas of urban planning, infrastructure financing, public housing, built environments, waste management, climate change, and urban biodiversity.
Also scheduled during the week was the inaugural WCS Mayors' Forum, a strategic platform for mayors and governors from around the world to gather to share best practices and suggest solutions to the pressing urban needs facing their cities.
In major highlights of the summit, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, was conferred on the Bilbao City Hall, Spain, “in recognition of its integrated and holistic approach to urban transformation”.
This year’s Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize went to the Yellow River Conservancy Commission in China for “outstanding achievements in integrated river basin management to restore and protect the Yellow River” upon which more than 100 million depend.
There were over 50 exhibitors and 3,000 trade visitors expected at the Expo.
In the opening ceremony on Monday, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Mr. Teo Chee Hean said: “People congregate in cities because of the promise of a better life that cities offer. It is our collective responsibility to live up to this promise and build liveable and sustainable cities that will enhance the well-being of people all over the world. After all, these are places which we all call home.