Excerpt of a text on ‘our planet‘, by WALLY N’DOW:
Reports that humanity is about to become a predominantly urban species, and outlines how HABITAT II will confront the challenges of this new world.
Current trends in the liberalization of both the global economy and national economies are accelerating the urbanization process. Moreover, the information age is not only changing the structures and operating styles of transnational corporations, it is also redefining the role of cities in the global village our world has become.
Exacerbating the urban crisis is a North-South divide of wealth and poverty that over the years has grown progressively wider. The second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) is deeply aware of the dimensions of that threat. It knows that peace and security cannot be achieved in a world in which growing numbers face chronic and expanding impoverishment.
The evidence is compelling. Primarily due to a decaying urban environment, at least 600 million people, mostly in developing countries, live in ‘health and life threatening’ situations. Up to one-third or more of urban peoples, in general, dwell in sub-standard housing. At least 250 million urban residents have no easy access to safe piped water; 400 million lack sanitation.
Although there are still uncertainties on the exact year when the urban poor will outnumber the rural poor, the trend is clear. Not only are we living in an increasingly urbanized world, we are also experiencing an urbanization of poverty and, along with it, increasing feminization of poverty. Indeed, women and dependent children suffer the most and have the worst shelter, especially in urban areas.
Historically, security has always been seen in terms of protecting national boundaries and borders. All that is changing now. The end of the Cold War has brought with it a new reality that the only true and lasting security is the one that concerns itself with the welfare of people – their healthy and productive lives in an environment that encourages them to attain their full potential as human beings. HABITAT II is devoted to a major aspect of that effort and could play a key role in shaping the human security of generations to come. (Read all and more on ‘our planet‘).