The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) recently launched the new campaign: “I am a City Changer.” The initiative aims to inform citizens and raise their awareness on urban issues; as well as share information on individual, corporate and public initiatives that improve urban living conditions and support sustainable development.
The campaign outlines ten reasons for why people should become a “City Changer.” These include the fact that: (1) the challenges of the 21st century are concentrated within cities; (2) the world population is growing, especially in cities; (3) people are still living in informal settlements; (4) climate change will continue to bring risks; (5) cities need to reduce energy consumption; (6) economic opportunities are inherent to urban areas; (7) cities are the future for new generations; (8) cities are creative and productive; (9) cities are the place where our life goes on; and (10) it is actually time to make a change.
To improve cities, to enhance the quality of life and to make progress, the campaign also highlights six key characteristics of sustainable cities. Cities need to be resilient and be able to adapt themselves to change, including new demands, risks, needs and realities. In particular, the planning and administration of new challenges and risks arising from climate change and natural disasters is important in this regard. Cities also need to be green by emitting less carbon into the atmosphere, and they need to be safe and healthy, meaning they need to have the capacity to respond to, for example, new economic and climatic conditions, and questions concerning the consumption of natural resources, as well as food security. Moreover, cities need to be inclusive to poor people, equitable, gender sensitive and provide the same rights to all its inhabitants. Cities need to be planned to reach their full potential – preferably through participatory decision-making processes to balance social, economic and environmental needs. Finally, cities need to be productive and create equal economic and decent work opportunities.
To support the initiative, the campaign banner is proclaimed on badges and posters as well as on all electronic signatures of UN-Habitat staff in Nairobi, Kenya. As such, the staff members will be working in a united fashion to inspire citizens worldwide to change their cities. Moreover, it is expected that the slogan of the campaign will appear on cars and buses that use hybrid or other fuel saving systems; on buildings which consume less energy for heating, lighting or ventilation, and elsewhere.
Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos, said that the campaign will be an excellent platform to raise awareness on the new challenges faced by cities. Considering the fact that in a little more than one generation from now, two-thirds of the world population will be living in cities, he stressed “With the world faced with the problem of rapid urbanization, we need to take the leadership in seeking solutions to such challenges.”