State of the World 2007 Presented at UN-HABITAT Governing Council in Nairobi

UN-HABITAT Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka presided at the launch of the 24th edition of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report at the 21st session of the HABITAT Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

“There is no turning back. Urbanization is here to stay and we therefore need to find ways of dealing with the challenges that come with it,” said Tibaijuka, who wrote the foreword to this year's report, State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future. In the foreword, she noted that, “In this period of transition from a predominantly rural species to an urban species, we must confront issues such as the urbanization of poverty head on. We cannot continue to ignore the urban penalty. For too long we have been living under the myth that the urban poor are always better off than the rural poor. Recent statistics suggest otherwise. Which is why all of us, authors as well as concerned citizens, must push the urban agenda into the limelight.”

The Worldwatch Institute, a non-profit research organization that analyses international environmental issues, has been producing an annual State of the World report on progress toward an environmentally and socially sustainable society since 1984. This 24th edition of the report is being released in more than 20 countries in an effort to raise the profile of urban environmental concerns. The Cities Alliance, a joint initiative between the World Bank and UN-HABITAT, helped fund the Nairobi launch.

Report contributors at the launch included Worldwatch research associate Zoë Chafe, who pointed to the considerable lack of financing for the development of cities, especially for housing for the urban poor; and Rasna Warah, who provided harrowing statistics about life in Nairobi's Kibera slum, Africa's largest. Also present was Rob de Jong, Head of the Urban Environment at the United Nations Environment Programme, who called for environmentally sustainable cities, especially in the face of climate change.