Wednesday was World Cities Day. About 1.4 million people move to cities around the world every week; nearly 55% of the world’s population now lives in urban areas.
Ahead of October 31, World Cities Day, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that about 1.4 million people move to cities around the world every week, and warned that “such rapid urbanisation can strain local capacities, contributing to increased risk from natural and human made disasters”. Because “hazards do not need to become disasters”, Guterres said, “the answer is to build resilience — to storms, floods, earthquakes, fires, pandemics and economic crises”. Thus, Bangkok has built underground water storage facilities to save for drier periods; Quito, Ecuador, has reclaimed or protected more than 200,000 hectares of land to boost flood protection; Johannesburg “is involving residents in efforts to improve public spaces so they can be safely used for recreation, sports, community events and services such as free medical care”, the UN chief said.
Year 1976, 37.9per cent: The world’s urban population when the UN General Assembly convened the Habitat I Conference in Vancouver 42 years ago. The world was starting to witness the greatest and fastest ever migration of people into cities and towns, as well as rising urban population through natural growth resulting from advances in medicine. Governments had begun to recognise the consequences of rapid urbanisation, especially in the developing world, and the need for sustainable human settlements.
Year 1996, 45.1 per cent: The world’s urban population when the Vancouver commitments were reconfirmed at the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul 20 years later. World leaders adopted the Habitat Agenda as a global plan of action for adequate shelter for all, with the notion of sustainable human settlements driving development in an urbanising world.
Year 2016, 54.5 per cent: The world’s urban population 40 years after Vancouver, when Habitat III was organised in Quito. UN-Habitat had reported in 2010 that more than 827 million people were living in slum-like conditions. The Quito conference looked at urbanisation as an endogenous source of development, acknowledged that new urban models were required to effectively address the challenge of climate change, and underlined the role of urbanisation as a tool for social integration and equity. —Sources: PTI, UN
This Word Means: GLOBAL COMPACT FOR MIGRATION
An agreement on dealing with migration, under UN. How it came about, why some countries disagree
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is the world’s first, intergovernmentally negotiated agreement covering all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It was finalised under United Nations auspices on July 13 this year, and is due to be formally approved at a meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, on December 11-12.
On Wednesday, Austria announced that it would not sign the compact, criticising its “almost irresponsibly naive pro-migration tone”, which represented a “danger to (Austria’s) national sovereignty”. Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the nationalist, anti-migration Freedom Party said: “Migration is not and cannot become a human right. It cannot be that someone receives a right to migration because of the climate or poverty.”
Austria currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency, and its Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who took office last December in a coalition with the Freedom Party, has made curbing of unregulated migration a priority. In September 2016, with Europe overwhelmed by waves of migrants from Africa and West Asia, all 193 UN member states, including the United States under President Barack Obama, adopted a declaration saying that no country could manage international migration on their own, and agreed to launch a process leading to the adoption of a global compact in 2018.
In December 2017, the administration of President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the negotiations on the compact, stating that its provisions were “inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies”. In July 2018, the Hungarian government under rightwing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, too, said it was withdrawing from the process.
The compact has 23 objectives that seek to boost cooperation to manage migration and numerous actions ranging from technical issues like the portability of earnings by migrant workers to reducing the detention of migrants. The UN estimates that there are over 258 million migrants living outside their country of birth today — a figure that is likely to rise with growing population, increasing connectivity and trade, rising inequality, and climate change. —ENS & AGENCIES