President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta focused on sustainable urban development as the two participated in a panel discussion on cities at the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Nairobi.
Kenyatta said the future represents a massive challenge for urbanization, with the need for alternative solutions and innovation to achieve affordable housing and other goals. That’s especially true as populations swell and global megacities like Lagos emerge on the African continent.
Housing was a priority for both leaders, who were joined by Prime Minister Josai Vorege Bainimarama of Fiji and Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed of Yemen in the panel discussion. It also featured Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the UN Habitat executive director, and the agency’s newly elected president, Martha Delgado.
“We need to bring the global agenda closer to the citizens and engage with local stakeholders,” said Delgado. “Experience shows that much of the creativity and innovation occurs at the very local level, through everyday experiences and encounters.”
It’s cities that will have to continue to drive innovation, Sharif said, and that’s the main theme of the assembly, which runs through Friday. Participants are exploring how technology can deliver the smart cities of the future through clean energy, transportation, water delivery systems and other services.
A complete agenda of the UN Habitat Assembly speakers and events is available here.
Image: UN Habitat