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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - More than 18,000 participants from 168 nations are attending the event.
With cities currently producing more than 50 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases, it's high time that urban innovation be accelerated and a culture of sustainable development be instilled, experts and officials said at the kickoff of the 10th World Urban Forum (WUF) in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The five-day forum, the first of its kind in the Arab region, has brought together policymakers, mayors, ministers and experts from across the world. More than 18,000 participants from 168 nations are attending the event.
Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court inaugurated the (WUF) at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).
In his keynote speech, Falah Al Ahbabi, chairman of Department of Municipalities in Abu Dhabi, said nations have more to do to address challenges and opportunities associated with rapid urbanisation.
"In today's world, change is a must. For instance innovation, new technologies, including artificial intelligence are important elements that we have to embrace to develop and modernise sustainable cities," said Al Ahbabi.
According to the UN, cities are currently the locus of complex and interconnected challenges. Not only do they produce massive volumes of greenhouse gases, they also use about 75 per cent of the world's energy and generate at least 1.3 billion tonnes of waste every year.
Maimunah Mohd Sharif, undersecretary-general and executive director of UN Habitat, said sustainabile cities is the way forward.
"We need urban planners, architects and other experts to cooperate with policymakers and steer urban sustainable development," said Sharif, adding that nations need to use their diverse cultures to include everyone in developing modern and sustainable cities.
"Involving everyone, including women and the youth, in the culture of modernising our cities is important. By interweaving culture and innovations, we can make our cities sustainable, safe, clean and a better place to live in."
Princess Lamia named UN Habitat Ambassador for Arab Region
Saudi Princess Lamia bint Majid Al Saud has been appointed as the first UN-Habitat Goodwill Ambassador for the Arab Region.
"Princess Lamia has done some incredible work to help the poor and empower women and the youth," said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, undersecretary-general and executive director, UN Habitat, while announcing her appointment. "She will act as a driver for sustainability in cities and ensure peace in the region," Sharif added.
Princess Lamia, who is also the secretary-general for Al Waleed Philanthropies, said the Arab world is facing a lot of challenges and, with the UN collaboration, a lot will be achieved.
"Together with other Saudi women, we have worked hard to develop and empower communities and we have changed the lives of millions of people in Saudi Arabia and across the globe. I believe in partnerships and working together. We have worked on many youth and women projects in Saudi Arabia and we shall duplicate these across the region."
Princess Lamia said her organisation has supported millions of underprivileged children across the world.
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