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Officials Discuss Sustainable Urbanization at United Nations

Event: Conference on SUSTAINABLE URBANIZATION IN THE INFORMATION AGE: Role of Infrastructure in Metropolitan Development
Location: United Nations Headquarters, 05.13.09
Speakers: For full list of speakers, click here
Organizers: The United Nations Human Settlements Programme; Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID); AIA NY Chapter; Regional Plan Association
Sponsors: The Building and Social Housing Foundation; Forum for Urban Design; Novartis Corporation; The Levin Graduate Institute

The second edition of the Conference on Sustainable Urbanization in the Information Age: The Role of Infrastructure in Metropolis Development, once again created a forum for a dialogue both among nations and between public and private spheres to achieve a more sustainable future.

Speakers from all corners of the world not only addressed the problems of rapid urbanization, but also attempted to vindicate the urban condition: “Urban centers are the ticking hearts of civilization” was the opening remark of Sarbuland Khan, executive coordinator of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Public Administration and Development Management Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (UN DESA DPADM GAID). This was later stressed by Alexandros Washburn, AIA, chief urban designer for the NYC Department of City Planning, in quoting Aristotle: “In a village you can live, but in a city you live well.” AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, added, “Living well is the only sustainability.”

Keynote speaker Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, UN Under-Secretary General and executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme, noted that the common ground among those present is the way their cities are managed and infrastructure is built. In these times when infrastructure is supposed to save the world from the falling economy, she urged cities to consider this an opportunity to install sustainability principles in infrastructure development processes. “The challenge,” she said, “is to integrate economic, environmental, and social policies to make our cities economically more competitive, ecologically more sustainable, and socially more inclusive and gender responsive…. We need local action if we are going to achieve global goals.”

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