The UN has embarked on a broad and continuous programme of institutional change and reform towards becoming a more effective and accountable institution. One important part of this process has been the opening of the United Nations to non-state actors, including business and civil society, as essential partners for change.
We are now at a very significant turning point in history: The year 2007 will be the year in which for the first time, half of humanity will be living in towns and cities. It marks the beginning of a new urban era. It is projected that by 2030 that figure will rise to two-thirds. Make no mistake, we live at a time of unprecedented, rapid, irreversible urbanisation. The cities growing fastest are those of the developing world. And the fastest growing neighbourhoods are the slums. Another and unacceptable feature of the new urban age is that 2007 will also be the year in which the global number of slum dwellers is forecast to reach the 1 billion mark.