This post addresses the other part of my blog’s cleantech / cities focus – the increasing importance of cities.
In 2001 then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that this would be the urban millennium:
Cities have always been crossroads of culture, and today urban areas are the driving forces of development and globalization.
– Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, 25th Special Session of the General Assembly, 6 June 2001
In 2007 the UN Population Fund made the oft-cited observation that as of 2008, more people would be living in cities around the world than in rural areas:
In principle, cities offer a more favourable setting for the resolution of social and environmental problems than rural areas. Cities generate jobs and income. With good governance, they can deliver education, health care and other services more efficiently than less densely settled areas simply because of their advantages of scale and proximity.
Cities also present opportunities for social mobilization and women’s empowerment. And the density of urban life can relieve pressure on natural habitats and areas of biodiversity. The challenge for the next few decades is learning how to exploit the possibilities urbanization offers. The future of humanity depends on it.
– UN Population Fund, May 2007 to coincide with the release of the ‘State of the World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth‘
This quote from the UNFP sums up the issues and opportunities perfectly, and provides the foundation for my own focus on cities.