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Dr. Asfaw Kumssa, Coordinator, United Nations Center for Regional Development Ms. Mariamu El Maawy, Principal Secretary Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ms. Chikako Takase, Director, United Nations Center for Regional Development Dr. Joan Clos, Director, UN-HABITAT Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It is gratifying to look around and see so many happy and energized faces this morning. That's a pleasing welcome to what I know is a going to be a great and successful forum. I want to warmly welcome all of you to Nairobi and ask you to feel at home.

Nairobi, which is Kenyas capital city, has risen in a single century from being an uninhabited swampland to a thriving modern capital. The former swamp land occupied by the city now was once inhabited by the Maasai, under the British East Africa protectorate when the British decided to build a railroad to open East Africa and make it accessible for trade and encourage colonial settlements.

Nairobi continued to grow under British rule, and many Britons settled within the city's suburbs. By 1963, Nairobis population stood at 350,000 people.

Nairobi grew rapidly and this growth put pressure on the city's infrastructure. Power cuts and water shortages were a common occurrence, though in the past few years better city planning has helped to put some of these problems in check. Modern Nairobi is still the safari capital and is quickly becoming the business hub of Africa. Nairobi has become one of Africas largest and most interesting cities, a city that never seems to sleep. With a population of 5 million in the day and 4 million at night, the entire town has a boundless energy, and is a thriving place where all of human life can be found. This is a place of great contrasts where race, tribe and origin all become facets of a unique Nairobi character. It is even rumored that when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord and ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, God got so annoyed and walked southwards and today God lives in Nairobi. Ladies and Gentlemen, having given you that brief history let me turn to the forum.

The World Expo held in October 2010 in Shanghai China was a magnificent gathering of human civilizations. Built around the theme of Better City, Better Life, it championed the Expo concept of understanding, communication, gathering and cooperation and created a fascinating kaleidoscope of world civilizations. It will be marked in history as a successful, wonderful and unforgettable World Expo. My prayer is that this forum will pick up from there and strive to implement the resolutions passed at that Expo. Just to re-cap, the World Expo 2010 focused widely on the following: Urban governance: harmonious cities and livable life Economic transformation and urban-rural relationships

Information and communication technologies and urban development Cultural heritage, creative cities and urban regeneration Science and technology innovation and urban futures Environmental protection and urban responsibilities

Today, I can comfortably say that Cities are the key to a sustainable future. The political and economic foundations we lay today will determine the quality of tomorrows ecosystems and the extent to which we will be able to safeguard and protect our global resources in future. Creating sustainable cities requires technical, organizational and financial innovations, in order both to organize urban systems and to establish key business models. However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity while not straining land and resources. Common city challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure. The challenges cities face can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. The future we want includes cities of opportunities, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more for all.

The coming decades will be ones of profound change for our cities: not only do they have to deal with spiraling populations, there are the

challenges posed by climate change, demographic shifts, rising living standards and a scarcity of natural resources to confront too. That is why the city is the key testing ground for innovative technologies and intelligent ideas for sustainable development and why cities represent one of the largest future markets overall and hence the purpose of this forum. As a key component of tomorrows sustainable, life-enhancing cities, mobility too will have to undergo a fundamental overhaul. Workable mobility concepts for the cities of the future will arise once we go beyond conventional technologies and services. I see Rapid Bus Transport Systems, Tramps and Bullet trains becoming the vogue. An interdisciplinary team including engineers, urban planners, computer scientists, economists and sociologists will have to work together to develop dynamic system solutions geared toward this sort of mobility and the cities of the future. From the outset, it is important to acknowledge that all cities are different and policies that work in one may not work in another. All cities have different development conditions, infrastructure, institutions, assets, challenges and levels of stakeholder engagement. At this forum, we as leaders will be invited to choose and deliberate from the menus of policy options that may be most relevant to our respective cities. Rapid urbanization and industrialization have offered to humanity the abundant fruits of modern civilization, but at the same time they have brought unprecedented challenges. Population explosion, traffic congestion, environmental pollution, resource shortages, urban poverty and cultural conflicts are becoming urban problems with a global scope.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, we need to use this platform to confront these challenges and as a vehicle for dynamic exchange and interaction between cities. We must aspire to build cities that establish harmony between diverse people, between development and environment, between cultural legacies and future innovations. A City of Harmony reveals itself when people are in harmony with nature, society, and themselves, and when there is also harmony between generations. To this end, Cities should respect nature, consider the urban ecological environment as an asset, integrate environmental issues into urban planning and administration, and accelerate the transition to sustainable development. They should promote the use of renewable energy sources and build low-carbon eco-cities. They should strongly advocate for conservation of resources and promote environment-friendly manufacturing. Cities and their citizens should join together to create sustainable lifestyles and an ecological civilization in which people and environment co-exist in harmony. To pursue inclusive and balanced growth, cities should balance economic growth and social development; seek to achieve an optimal relationship between social equity and economic efficiency; strive to create an institutional environment of shared rights and interests, equal opportunity, and fair competition; and work to reduce inequities in income. They should enable all residents to share the fruits of urban development and fully realize their personal growth.

To Promote Scientific and Technological Innovation as a Path to Development Cities should strengthen scientific research and technological innovation, as well as establish and improve systems for using new technologies. They should accelerate the application of scientific findings in order to improve the quality of peoples lives and create new industries and jobs. They should leverage scientific research and technological innovation to build up the capacity of cities to prevent and mitigate urban and natural disasters. They should apply principles of openness and mutual benefit in strengthening scientific and technological exchanges and collaboration to promote urban development around the world. And as I conclude, Cities should endeavor to protect tangible and intangible cultural heritage and encourage the development of multicultural societies. Like the ocean that embraces all rivers, cities should keep an open spirit and actively engage in intercultural exchanges and interactions. Cities should pursue cultural innovation based on respect for cultural traditions and the preservation of cultural diversity, so as to generate lasting momentum for urban and human development. Efficient governance enables cities to have visionary leaders who champion the putting in place of policies and legal frameworks for sustaining all components of development within the city.

Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish you all successful deliberations over the next two days and pray that you shall come up with resolutions which we as leaders can borrow from and implement.

We need to reach out and strengthen our leadership and work with unreserved dedication for the good of others and reap for them the social, economic and political dividends that they so much deserve. Ladies and gentlemen, the time for procrastination, for talking is over. Now is the time for us to walk the talk. Now is the time to galvanize all members and UN agencies to move forward. We have no other choice but to implement the resolutions passed at the World Expo 2010 and what will be discussed at this forum. The way forward is clearly marked; we must follow it without hesitation and succeed in meeting our challenge of being model cities throughout the world.

I thank you and GOD bless you all.