Remarks at the ‘Future We Want’ Press Conference

Dec 6, 2013

Remarks at the ‘Future We Want’ Press Conference-By Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director, UNDP China


Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, friends and guests,

Good morning,

I am delighted to be here today at the launch of the second year of the “Future We Want” initiative together with China Business Network. This public participation campaign is a wonderful encouragement for people across the world to envisage what a sustainable future means for them and how to accelerate action for a healthier, more equitable and prosperous world.

I’d also like to thank our sponsors, Samsung and Giant, for helping us to pursue our goals. We really appreciate and value our private sector partners who are essential to us fulfilling our aims.

The ‘Future We Want’ campaign has been a great success over the last year and we’re sure that this year’s campaign with a greater focus on transport will also be a great success.

The topic of transport fits closely with one of the principal current interests of UNDP – that of successful urbanization in China. This relates to so many of our concerns – from poverty reduction to the rule of law and climate change.

That’s why UNDP published its China National Human Development Report this year on the topic of ‘Sustainable and Liveable Cities: toward ecological civilization’. We looked at the current situation with urbanization, especially in relation to poverty. The clear evidence is that prosperity and urbanization go hand in hand, but that this leaves problems with regional wealth gaps, rural–urban gaps and the greater risk of urban poverty.

We examined closely some of the challenges that cities in China face – for example, the economic challenges of slowing growth, of widening income gaps, of pressures for employment especially in relation to migrant workers, and the challenges to resources and the environment.

Crucial to the path towards liveable cities is good urban governance, where governments consider the urban form for the quality of life, along with services for all and resource efficiency. Governments could encourage public inputs to urban planning and urban design, regularly sharing decisions with the public. Public officials should be given incentives to work for the conservation of resources, for environmental protection and social development, as well as for economic growth.

Successful cities will require considerable investment, including in environmental protection, social services and infrastructure, but these could yield significant benefits and savings in the future. Yes, this means compromising the speed of urbanization with its quality, but the outcome should be more sustainable, liveable cities.

One component of such cities is great transport. And it’s an area where we as individuals can have a cheap, fast impact – by getting on our bikes! This is probably the greenest, cleanest and healthiest method to get round cities. Back in my home country of the Netherlands the bicycle is key to green transport – and this is close to my heart too. Here’s a photo of my own brother, who set up OV Fiets, the Netherlands bicycling sharing programme. So it’s really exciting for me to see these schemes all over China as well, in Wuhan, in Beijing, in Hangzhou and here in Shanghai. This is something the whole United Nations supports – and as proof here’s UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in China on a UN bike!

So we’re thrilled to be organizing a UN staff biking event in two weeks time to make Beijing one of the many cities that join this year’s ‘The Future We Want’ campaign across the country. We hope that this can be part of a growing dialogue and national conversation about urbanization, all of which can be part of the ‘Future We Want’.

Thank you so much for your attention – only with the dedicated effort and advocacy of all us together can we make the change to create the future we want for our children and the next generations.

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