In view of the upcoming global human settlements conference Habitat III, to be held in Quito, Ecuador, in October, Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller and the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, today inaugurated the German Habitat Forum.
Against the backdrop of increasingly rapid urban growth around the world they both highlighted the crucial role of cities in tackling poverty and protecting the environment and climate, demanding they should be recognised and supported more strongly as actors that shape the future.
“Liveable cities are spaces that offer development opportunities to all people on this planet, regardless of whether they’re rich or poor,” Federal Minister Müller said. “We need to develop the right solutions in cooperation with cities. This is about decent living spaces for people, improving air quality in cities, efficient and environmentally friendly traffic systems, supplying water and energy and dealing with waste and wastewater. Cities are places with tremendous innovative capacity that radiate economic and social energy.”
For Habitat III, Minister Müller announced a new mobility initiative by the BMZ that is intended to lend impetus to a global transformation of transport and traffic systems. The focus of the initiative is on developing countries and emerging economies and on enabling developments in transport and traffic that are socially compatible, innovative and climate friendly.
Federal Minister Müller, in his opening statement, said: “There is a huge risk, especially in rapidly growing cities in developing countries, that development progress is jeopardised by uncontrolled car traffic, high levels of air pollution and inadequate urban planning. It is important for cities to share their experience and know-how. Municipal partnerships are an important tool in this regard which I want to expand further.”
“More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas,” Mayor Müller said. “That is why cities will play a vital role in realising the international community’s climate and development goals. And that is why Berlin has been contributing actively to the Habitat process, playing an important role within the Metropolis network in ensuring that cities are now explicitly recognised as negotiation partners for the UN.”
More than 1,000 experts for urban development, representatives from municipalities, politics, business, academia and civil society are meeting at the German Habitat Forum today and tomorrow. The event is being organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal State of Berlin (Berlin Senate) and the German Development Institute. The forum is aimed at developing practical solutions and Germany’s contribution to the Habitat conference. The results of the forum will be presented tomorrow as the Berlin Recommendations.