The Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS) on Thursday reiterated its commitment to harness potentials of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in promoting Africa’s inclusive cooperation with other regions.
The statement was made by Lu Haifeng, Secretary-General of the GFHS, during the opening session of the 14th Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2019), which kicked off on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Lu, who described Africa as “the future continent” with multiple assortments resources together with adequate and strong labor sources,” reiterated GFHS’s keen interest to actively support comprehensive cooperation among African countries and the rest of the world, in which the BRI is said to be a positive imputes to facilitate Africa’s socio-economic ties with other regions.
“GFHS would like to actively promote all-round economic and cultural cooperation between Africa and other regions, including the Belt and Road Initiative, thus contributing to the sustainable development in the region,” the GFHS’s Secretary-General told the high-level international meeting, which is being held for the first time in the African continent.
“Africa will be the fastest urbanized continent in the world with its own characteristics,” Lu said, adding that Africa’s urban population will more than double to 1 billion by the year 2040.
Lu also highlighted various opportunities that are presented with emerging technologies in the digital era that would help to drive the momentum in achieving sustainable, smart and inclusive cities across Africa.
“GFHS 2019 is a timely, relevant and appropriate initiative that makes the international community alert to the urgent issues facing sustainable urbanization,” said Lu.
“It is high time we take proactive measures in solving this problem and making great strides towards sustainable development in the digital age,” he added.
The high-level international forum is co-organized by the GFHS, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the World Urban Campaign.
According to the organizers, the GFHS 2019, among other things, aspires “to promote pragmatic cooperation in the context of the BRI and to drive progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 11 and the New Urban Agenda.”
The BRI, proposed by China in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which are designed to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond.
SDG target 11 of the UN mainly advocates transforming cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, in which as part of an integrated agenda, cities, and human settlements also have important roles to play across the 17-goal spectrum of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Experts and policymakers attending GFHS 2019 on Thursday and Friday are also expected to explore in-depth how to harness the huge opportunities arising from the digital revolution, to upgrade the planning, construction and management of cities and human settlements and make them greener, smarter and more sustainable, it was noted.
Strengthening advocacy, capacity building, foster new partnerships, boost urban innovation, accelerate effective actions, and support various parts of Africa and beyond, to develop inclusive green sustainable economy are also said to be major aspirations of the forum.
The two-day forum brings together around 500 participants, including senior officials from the UN and other international organizations, diplomatic envoys from relevant countries, government representatives and city mayors, local administrators, business leaders, investors and officers from financial institutes, and renowned experts and scholars. Enditem