Islamabad, September 30, 2012 (PPI-OT): The growth of Pakistan’s economy will increasingly rely on creating and promoting vibrant, diverse, and attractive places that offer a quality environment for living, studying, working, and trading. However, well-planned cities cater to current requirements for promoting economic growth but also guarantee viable solutions for future residents.
The Federal Climate Change Minister, Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan, has expressed these views in a media statement issued here in connection with the World Habitat Day 2012.
The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as the World Habitat Day (WHD). This year, WHD is being celebrated on October 1 throughout the world including Pakistan under the theme “Changing Cities, Building Opportunities”.
The federal climate change minister said that the idea of marking the day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter.
It also intends to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat and raise awareness amongst people from all walks of the life that their individual and collective roles are critical for making the cities livable, peaceful, clean and beautiful, he explained.
Highlighting environmental impacts of unplanned growth of cities and towns, the federal minister warned that environmental conditions due to ill-planned expansion of urban areas have an immediate and direct impact on the quality of people’s lives.
They affect human health both directly (air, water pollution, noise, clean drinking water and safe sanitation) and indirectly (climate change, biodiversity). Well-managed urban commons and public goods, thus, can help improve environmental conditions and quality of life side by side.
“Indeed, individual short-term aspirations to the quality of life, such as affordable, low-density housing, can act as major factors behind urban sprawl, which is detrimental to the natural environment through higher use of land, energy and water and mounting surge in greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
“We inevitably need to plan our cities better, for unplanned and haphazard growth of cities results in chaotic development and urban sprawl. When well planned, the cities can continue to extend opportunities to their present and future dwellers,” Rana Muhammad Farooq remarked.
He said that present dismal state of our towns and cities, which are becoming shelter for increasing number of population, rather becoming over-populated, demands us all to reflect on the sorry state of our towns and cities and think up creative measures for how these unmanaged, over-populated, filthy towns and cities can be transformed into productive cities with equal opportunities for ensuring the quality life for all.
Modern trends in economies and information technology are steering cities towards sites of innovative production and knowledge. For the first time in human history, over half of the world’s population is living in urban areas. By 2050, up to 75 percent of the world’s population of eight billion will be living in urban centres.
Refering to a UN-Habitat’s report, The Federal Climate Change Minister Rana Farooq said that presently 58 million people live in urban centers in Pakistan, and its population is increasing three times faster than the growth in rural areas of the country.
“By 2030, Pakistan would be predominantly urban with more than 46 percent of its population residing in urban areas. Almost 122 cities will be housing more than one million people each,” he said while quoting a UN-Habitat’s study.
He pointed out that by 2030 about 60 percent of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18. It is, however, important to ensure that these young people have unhampered access to decent life, employment and quality education.
Director-General (Environment) at the Climate Change Ministry, Jawaid Ali Khan, said that this year’s Rio +20 conference on sustainable development recognised the importance of cities to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies.
He recalled that it underlined the significance of global partnerships in implementing the Habitat Agenda and highlighted the key role of municipal governments in setting a vision for sustainable cities, from planning new urban areas to invigorating older cities and neighbourhoods.
On this World Habitat Day, let us urgently commit to work together for integrated, holistic management of the urban environment for the benefit of people and the planet, he pleaded.
For more information, Contact:
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
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