Some 3,000 delegates, including four presidents, cabinet ministers, urban planners and population experts are attending the United Nations Habitat Assembly meeting this week in Nairobi. They are seeking better urban and sustainable planning to deal with rising populations as well the effects of climate change.
At the inaugural U.N Habitat Assembly, delegates will put their heads together hoping to find solutions to make big cities more habitable. For Africa, urgent solutions are needed as the United Nations estimates nearly half of the continent’s populations live in slums.
The theme of the summit is “Innovation for a better quality of life in cities and communities.” U.N. Habitat Director for Africa Naison Mutizwa-Mangaza says innovation will be key in transforming the continent’s urban areas.
“We hope there will be a lot of ideas shared on innovations on how to plan our cities, how to manage them, how to do transport in a more imaginative way and so on. For me it would be how to grow African economies using urbanization as a tool,” Mutizwa-Mangaza said.
The assembly is to be held every four years and comes as more people are living in urban areas than rural areas, posing a challenge for urban planners, according to Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Inadequate shelter and unsustainable human settlement remain a key challenge. I urge partners to exchange ideas and best practices for improving our cities. And I therefore continue to urge member countries and partners to seize this opportunities during this United Nations Habitat Assembly to exchange ideas and best practices with a view of identifying practical solutions to improving our cities and human settlements,” Kenyatta said.
At the end of the five day summit, delegates plan to come up with a ministerial declaration with proposals on how to make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030. Maimouna Sharrif, director of U.N. Habitat, says coordinated action is needed.
“It means that we collectively need to get our urban growth process right to sort, and our urban growth process and our cities right to solve or mitigate these problems. This is important as some of these problems do not recognize regional or national boundaries,” Sharrif said. The U.N. Habitat Assembly, will draw from the New Urban Agenda, a road map on urban development adopted by global leaders in 2016. (VOA)
Google has been accused of making “substantial” donations to at least a dozen Washington-based think tanks that deny climate change and are actively campaigning against stricter climate legislation.
This is in stark contrast to Google CEO Sundar Pichai who has taken a public pledge to take urgent action against the climate crisis.
According to a report in The Guardian, Google contributed heavily to conservative groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the American Conservative Union that are in support of regulatory efforts that benefit tech companies.
The CEI is a strong proponent of the idea that climate change is a myth. In the past, the group has taken tough stances in opposition to tech regulation and antitrust enforcement.
According to reports, Google is “trying to appease conservatives so it can retain important protections under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act a” a law that protects Google from being responsible for third-parties”.
A company spokesperson said that it might not endorse every policy position of an organization when it makes a contribution.
“We’re hardly alone among companies that contribute to organisations while strongly disagreeing with them on climate policy,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge.
Pichai last month announced the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history — made up of a 1,600-megawatt (MW) package of agreements that includes 18 new energy deals.
“These deals will increase our worldwide portfolio of wind and solar agreements by more than 40 per cent, to 5,500 MW equivalent to the capacity of a million solar rooftops,” Pichai said in a statement.
“Once all these projects come online, our carbon-free energy portfolio will produce more electricity than places like Washington D.C. or entire countries like Lithuania or Uruguay use each year,” he added.
The announcement came as hundreds of Google employees participated in the “Global Climate Strike” during the United Nation’s climate summit on September 23.
In a blog post, the Google Workers for Action on Climate group highlighted some of the funding that the company was involved with that contradicted its public stance on climate change.
“Google Cloud makes significant revenue licensing infrastructure, machine learning, and engineering talent to fossil fuel companies, promising to help them extract fuel reserves faster,” the group said. (IANS)