Interview: China's quest for urban renewal could inspire cities worldwide, says senior UN official

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 6, 2023
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NAIROBI, June 6 (Xinhua) -- The strategic measures that China has adopted to green its cities are a boon to the global quest for sustainable urbanization, climate resilience and inclusive growth, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), has said.

China has been a pace-setter in urban regeneration in the recent past, inspiring the Global South, where cities are growing rapidly, to follow suit, Sharif told Xinhua during a recent interview ahead of the second session of the UN-Habitat Assembly scheduled for June 5 to 9 in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

Sharif said she was impressed by China's approach to people-centered urbanization during her visits to the country, saying the model could inspire other nations to follow suit.

She hailed China's progress in poverty eradication, climate response and providing affordable housing, adding that the regeneration of major cities through youth involvement is inspiring.

China has sent a delegation to attend the assembly, held under the theme of "A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises."

Sharif emphasized the significance of the Chinese delegation's attendance at the assembly in sharing valuable insights and best practices on urban renewal with other nations.

She said that thanks to Chinese investments in transport infrastructure like modern highways, railways, airports and seaports, African cities have been on a renewal trajectory.

Sharif hoped Beijing would continue facilitating the flow of technology and know-how to Africa's city planners, engineers and local investors to promote sustainable urban development on the continent.

"We stand ready to cooperate with the government of China and governments in Africa in advancing the sustainable urbanization agenda," Sharif said.

The UN official said China has forged a close working relationship with the UN-Habitat to advance the global urban renewal agenda through targeted financing, technology transfer and capacity development.

Sharif noted that the fourth session of the World Urban Forum, which took place in Nanjing, China in November 2008, created momentum in the global quest for establishing resilient and inclusive cities.

China was also instrumental in creating World Cities Day, held annually on Oct. 31, she said, adding that the first World Cities Day was celebrated in Shanghai in 2014, which raised the bar in sharing best practices from China to foster sustainable urban growth.

In 2022, the UN-Habitat initiated the Global Award for Sustainable Development in Cities (Shanghai Award) to boost sustainable urban development globally. Sharif said the 2023 winner will be announced in October.

The Shanghai Award, according to Sharif, seeks to inspire cities to be more proactive in tackling their challenges through peer learning, research and localization of sustainable development goals.

Sharif said that the UN-Habitat is keen to leverage China's support in diverse areas like financing, technology, innovations and capacity building to hasten the implementation of its flagship urban renewal projects in the Global South. Enditem

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