Road to sustainability is through cities, says Ban Kimoon

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 21 June 2012 — - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon applauds a crowd of Mayors and local government representatives for advancing sustainability in their towns and cities at the Rio+20 Global Town Hall today.

"Local is global and global is local,” Ban Ki-moon said, explaining that in today’s globalized world, there is little difference between local and federal governments, and therefore cities play an equally important role in achieving sustainability. At the ongoing Rio+20 summit, countries have come up with a scope of agreement that will chart sustainable development in the next years. But Ban Ki-moon fears that this would merely be another piece of paper, unless cities continue to lead by example, and take their over 500 voluntary commitments for action seriously.

 “The country is the sum of cities. If cities do not work, then countries cannot work”, he added. Referring to the local governments’ message to Rio signed by more than 80 Mayors at the ICLEI World Congress, Mayor Marcio Araujo de Lacerda of Belo Horizonte Brazil emphasized the call for better mobilization, more inclusion, and proper recognition of local governments as key actors in sustainability processes. He expressed optimism on the latest agreed text of Rio+20, noting its relatively strong section on sustainable cities, but believes that more can be done to empower local governments.

Britanny Triffold, winner of Date with History and Rio+20 youth speaker reinforced the importance of local authorities in sustainable development by saying: “ We view local governments to be more influential and it is more feasible for them to influence and follow through with our demands more specifically to where we are living! Yes, I do place more faith in the local governments.” Most of the world are living in urban areas, with 7 out of 10 living in cities in developing countries.Cities are drivers of environmental degradation, and at the same time, on the cutting edge of sustainable development. By pursuing innovative techniques, sustainable cities can be a unifying force to integrating the three pillars of sustainable development. “The road to sustainability runs through the world’s towns and cities. By building sustainable towns and cities, you will build global sustainability”, Ban Ki-moon ended, appealing to Mayors to further intensify their work beyond Rio+20.

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