Statement by Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN Urban Futures: New Mindsets “North Meets South”

Ertuğrul Apakan 01.10.2012
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the United Nations Human Settlements Program for organizing this high level working session on the occasion of the World Habitat Day. I should also like to thank Ms. Cecillia Martinez, Director of the UN-Habitat in New York, for her kind invitation.

Today, people living in cities exceed half of the world's population. By 2050, this rate is expected to reach 70 per cent.

Cities have significant role in economic, social and cultural life. As a matter of fact, the 21st Century will be the century of cities and their inhabitants.

Cities are the centers of transformation. They will continue be the main driver of global economy by their geographical concentration of people, infrastructure, knowledge and resources. Consumption and production patterns are going to be determined largely by the cities.

Nevertheless, urban populations and activities are demanding more natural resources.

Unsustainable urban practices are creating polluted environment and affecting biodiversity adversely.

Expanding slum areas are exacerbating poor living conditions, poverty and land insecurity.

In this context, pursuing “sustainable urbanization” policies is of crucial importance. Building environmentally sustainable, socially responsible and economically productive cities needs to be promoted for quality urban areas.

Integrated polices are necessary to plan and build sustainable cities. They should take into consideration resource efficiency, climate neutrality, appropriate infrastructure and available technology.

As a vital part of integrated urban development policy, empowerment of local authorities is central. Due to their proximity to citizens and inhabitants, local authorities play pivotal role in providing basic services. They must work together with national governments more closely with a view to alleviating poverty and improving living conditions.

Distinguished Participants,

We need to bear in mind that cities are solution partners. They have an important role to play in the post-2015 development agenda. The international community should take into consideration all urban issues in setting goals and targets for beyond 2015 in line with the results of the Rio+20 Conference.

We believe that the UN-Habitat III Conference will be a great opportunity to integrate global urban development agenda with the post-2015 development agenda.

Finally, I would like to reiterate that Turkey stands ready to host the UN-Habitat III Conference in Istanbul. We are of the view that this Conference will create new urban policies capable of responding to the current and future urban trends, challenges and opportunities.

Thank you.