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- UN-Habitat Executive Director: World Cities Day Message
Executive Director’s Message on the occasion of International Day of Living Together in Peace
Today marks the International Day for Living Together in Peace. At UN-Habitat we join hands with the rest of the world in remembering those who live in societies with conflict.
Violence and forced displacement are issues that are faced by too many people across the globe today. According to the World Bank, in 2015, the number of ongoing conflicts increased to 50 from 41 in 2014, and the world currently faces its record in forced displacement since World War II, with the number of forcibly displaced people amounting to 59.5 million. Gender-based violence remains high, and the world’s poor are increasingly concentrated in countries affected by violence.
Urbanisation brings together individuals and communities from all walks of life. Living together in relatively close proximity, sharing public spaces and common experiences, fosters an understanding and tolerance that are unique to urban areas. In cities, differences between people take a backseat, and, as major socio-cultural and economic hubs, peace in these areas is vital.
For this reason, it is important that sustainable urbanisation also focuses on risk-reduction, rehabilitation and resilience-building, to provide a safe, inclusive and peaceful environment for people living in post-conflict regions.
In regions that have suffered from crises, UN-Habitat supports member states with recovery and rehabilitation programmes, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Somalia, DRC, Lebanon and Syria. More than 1 million individuals have benefitted from resilience building and improved access to basic services, such as shelter and water. In this way, UN-Habitat supports in transforming urban areas into safer residential areas, and in improving cities’ capacity to recover swiftly from potential shocks or stresses, both natural and man-made. Preventative work is also vital, and UN-Habitat helps in this regarding through promoting inclusivity and safety of urban residents.
As the modern habitats and hubs for humankind, cities play an important role in promoting peace. Stability in urban areas signifies stability across the whole region, and UN-Habitat thus plays a vital role in bringing this about.
Living together in peace should no longer be a privilege for certain communities and countries, but a right for every individual across the world.
On this day, UN-Habitat joins all UN agencies in achieving sustainable and inclusive peace.