Opening of the 17th EAROPH Congress, 11th - 13th October 2000, Asan City, Korea

This millennium, this century, this decade, this meeting, marks a period in history and civilisation that is as significant and as challenging as the two other great revolutions - the agrarian and the industrial. This is the age of the urban revolution, where the cities of the world, fuelled by globalisation and informatisation, will be dominant features of the economic, political, social, ecological and cultural landscape.

Just as people talk about the dominance of the Fortune 500, the mega-corporations, so it is suggested that the world could be dominated by the dynamics of 500 large cities which will be nodes of excellence, of competitiveness and quality of living.

There will also be a dark side of this revolution.

1.If we do not deal constructively with poverty in our cities, then our poor will deal destructively with our cities.
2.Urban violence and terrorism and 'local intensity conflicts' will be an increasing feature.
3.As the ecological footprints of cities devours the countryside, the environment will fight back in its own natural ways.
4.The power of 'globalisation' will have to be challenged and counter balanced by 'localisation'.

There is a great challenge looming ahead of all of us and on behalf of the United Nations family of organisations, I salute EAROPH for the leadership role it is playing in providing a constructive forum for shaping an agenda that will make our cities five things - socially just, economically productive, ecologically sustainable, politically participatory and culturally vibrant.

The United Nations believes that more often it is bad governance and not lack of financial resources that hurts our people, our cities, out nations. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) are cooperating in a Global Campaign for Good Governance. Let us work together to take Action for Better Cities. Cities that practice real participation with the people, rule by fair and just laws, transparency, responsiveness, a people-centred orientation, a just and equitable platform, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability and a strategic vision for this new urban age which many predict will also be the Asia Pacific century.

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