Abu Dhabi, 11 February 2020 - The Prime Minister of Fiji. J.V. Bainimarama has called on delegates at the World Urban Forum to act as advocates for the urban poor both in word and in action.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the launch of one of UN-Habitat’s five Flagship Programmes – Rise Up: Resilient settlements for the Urban Poor. This Flagship will support the most vulnerable people living in slums to build their resilience to withstand the effects of climate change.
The Prime Minister said the urban poor suffered from deeply-entrenched social and institutional stigma and called for everyone to work to foster a spirit of inclusivity.
He said he was honoured to be asked to join the event by the UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif as they shared a “passionate advocacy for the billions of traditionally-disenfranchised voices of the world, the poor and the climate vulnerable.”
He added that it was clear that the global challenges of poverty, inequality and climate change could only be solved together.
“I look forward to watching the life-changing impact that Rise Up will have on the urban poor, on our societies, and on the world as a whole,” concluded Prime Minister Bainimarama.
The UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Mr. Victor Kisob said the current level of funding was insufficient to help vulnerable communities to effectively predict, adjust to and adopt appropriate measures to address climate change at the local level.
The Global Director of the World Resources Institute Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, Mr. Aniruddha Dasgupta cautioned that cities and systems would not succeed if the poor were not supported and urged participants to “get behind the programme”.
The Permanent Representative of Poland to UN-Habitat, Marek Rohr-Garztecki spoke about the need to work together.
“There are problems and there are ways of ameliorating them. It is a question of coming together to find the most viable and sustainable solutions, such as urban regeneration,” he said.
The founder of Slum Dwellers International Ms. Sheela warned that if the challenge of informal settlements is not addressed urgently, it will double in the next few years.
“Urban informality remains invisible and needs new champions. We must work together with cities, governments and UN-Habitat to seek inclusive and sustainable solutions,” she said.