Saint Petersburg 12 June 2017 -- This year’s Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) was held over three days with a keynote speech by the President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and attended by more than 14,000 thousand participants from 143 countries. Guests of the Forum included Presidents and Prime Ministers, as well as 45 Ministers from 30 countries.

The SPIEF, being held since 1997, is one of the best-attended events on business and economy.

At the first day of the Forum, the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation hosted a special strategy session on challenges Russian cities are facing in post-industrial economy, and invited Executive Director of UN-Habitat Dr. Joan Clos to share his vision on urbanization trends and linked opportunities.

During the Session, Minister Mikhail Men highlighted the importance of urbanization for Russia and the region as the opportunity for economic development, while Dr Clos stressed the importance of having a more pragmatic approach on managing urbanization.

Representatives of local governments, private sector, and academia, joined the discussion noting that the global population is expected to increase by 2.5 billion people, and that the percentage of that population residing in urban areas will grow from 54% to 66% by 2050. This massive shift towards urbanization creates challenges for policymakers and municipal authorities, as well as opportunities if urbanization is well managed.

The special session on urbanization at the SPIEF hosted by the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Russian Federation is continuum of the ongoing collaboration of UN-Habitat and the Ministry on technical capacity building, and knowledge and information management, to support cities in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States on implementation of the New Urban Agenda.