UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, Colombian Minister for Housing, City and Territory, Luis Felipe Henao Cardona, and the Mayor of Medellín, Aníbal Gaviria have officially opened the public exhibition at the Seventh Session of the World Urban Forum.
Speaking at the inaugural press conference, Dr Clos spoke about the challenges that the world faces as its urban population continues to grow and how Medellín had already achieved a great deal in improving the lives of its inhabitants.
“At the current rates of urban growth, in the next 30 years we could double the urbanization of the past 10,000 years…” he said. “[For this reason] we want a realistic world urban forum, one that addresses reality, in a real city that has real challenges and is facing them.”
“There can be no sustainable development if urbanization is not sustainable,” he said.
The Minister for Housing, City and Territory, Felipe Henao Cardona, said “Medellín is an example of a city in transformation and regeneration”. He went on to say that it could be seen as a role model to other cities in the region and the world.
Also speaking at the press conference, Mayor of Medellín, Aníbal Gaviria said he was proud that Medellín was hosting the Forum and hoped that it would be one of the most successful World Urban Forums to date. He also announced that the number of accredited visitors had reached 10,000 by the close of the day.
Earlier in the day, UN-Habitat Deputy Director, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, and Suri Sufjan of the Huairou Commission took part in the Moravia Gender Exploratory Walk. Jointly organised by UN-Habitat and the City of Medellín, the purpose of the walk was to promote the understanding and commitment of local authorities and decision makers of the conditions that affect the perceptions of insecurity.
Many women and girls in vulnerable urban communities around the world, continue to face every day, such as domestic violence and sexual assault. The creation of safe public space where women and girls enjoy the same access to urban services is both a question of health and of basic human rights.
At the same time, UN-Habitat launched the beta version its new corporate website, where news and photos from the World Urban Forum could be accessed. The new website has been designed to reflect the new focus areas for UN-Habitat – urban planning; urban economy; and urban land, legislation and governance – while at the same time, promoting its work towards the Post-2015 agenda and the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development which will take place in 2016.
Nearly 25,000 national and international participants registered for the forum, before online registration closed three weeks ago. This represents a record number of registrations for the open Forum.