On February 20th, Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice participated in a plenary session of the 8th Forum of the World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty.
Ms Robinson was joined in the plenary session by Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director, UN Women, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide.
Over half of the world’s population now currently reside in cities, and with that expected to increase to 80% by 2050, it is not surprising that cities have become the focus of the international sustainability effort. Cities only occupy 3% of total land surface, yet they produce 50% of all global waste, 60-80% of Green House Gases, and consume 75% of natural resources.
The world population will rise by 50% by the year 2050, to over 9 billion. Most of the population growth will take place in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia – areas which are already vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition.
Speaking at the event Mary Robinson said “Developing world cities, which are growing much faster than their developed world counterparts, are particularly vulnerable to lack of resources, poverty, inequality and vulnerability to climate change”.
Ms Robinson also urged the conference to ensure that economic considerations do not over-ride environmental and social concerns as they have in the past – and to ensure that development post 2015 is rights based agenda. “This is something my colleagues and I strive for through climate justice; an approach which links human rights, climate change and development to achieve a people-centred response.”
The conference also saw Dublin become the first city in the developed world to become a member of UN Women’s Safe Cities for Women Programme – a programme that aims to make women and children feel safer in their local neighbourhoods, while improving their quality of life.