Kabul, 9 November 2015— On the occasion of the “World Urbanism Day”, also known as "World Town Planning Day", the government of Afghanistan held a national urban conference jointly hosted by the Minister of Urban Development Affairs, Sadat Mansour Naderi and the Special representative of the President of Afghanistan in Reform and Good Governance, Mr. Ahmad Zia Masoud.

Afghan boys and girls opened the ceremony with their vision for better cities, with more parks, less cars, cleaner air and rivers, more employment and children’s participation in rebuilding and developing Afghan cities.

Minister Sadat Naderi (Urban Development) referred to the Urban National Priority Programme (U-NPP) as the new framework for urban sustainability and planning according international planning standards, building upon the ‘State of Afghan Cities 2015 Report’, recently published with support from UN-Habitat.

Special Representative Zia Masoud stressed the importance of Afghan cities as places of co-existence of different people and communities based on the rule of law and guided by sound urban management principles and codes.

President Ghani concluded the opening ceremony by calling for a new urban treaty among all national stakeholders to foster more prosperous and better planned cities and city regions, including a better urban-rural partnership to ensure food security and a synergetic development in a rapidly urbanizing country with strong rural history.

The President referred to the children’s vision to appeal for a more just and social approach including the urban poor and vulnerable groups in society, through better partnerships between public sector, private sector and civil society.

Future urban development should also reconnect with the rich Afghan urban and cultural history and architecture, as well reconcile with its rivers and natural resources. He also emphasized the urgent need to increase municipal revenues.

The President thanked UN-Habitat for laying the foundation to monitor urban development and planning. Addressing the conference, Mr. Matthew French, Country Representative (a.i.) UN-Habitat Afghanistan, praised the Government of Afghanistan for their strong leadership on sustainable urban development in Afghanistan.

Mr French emphasized UN-Habitat's commitment to building stronger urban institutions and supporting the government to improve tenure security for the millions of urban dwellers in Afghan cities. The opening ceremony was followed by the inauguration of the Urban Conference exhibition, jointly opened by the Minister of Urban Development and the Mayor of Kabul municipality.

Since 1949 “World Urbanism Day”, also known as "World Town Planning Day" is celebrated worldwide each November 8th. It is a special day to recognize and promote the role of planning in creating livable towns and cities.

World Urbanism Day presents an excellent opportunity to look at planning from a global perspective, an event which appeals to the conscience of citizens and public authorities in order to draw attention to the development of cities and their hinterlands.