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MAS at the United Nations

Last night, forty MAS members and supporters were guests of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), for a special briefing on the findings from the recent meeting of the Habitat’s World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, co-chaired by MAS Chair Dr. Eugenie Birch. MAS is pleased to be a lead partner in the World Urban Campaign, challenging New Yorkers and the broader MAS constituency to bring their experience and knowledge into the I am a City Changer campaign which connects city building innovators around the world. Once through the labyrinth of security perimeters and check points in place at the United Nations, participants heard presentations from Habitat Director and former Barcelona Mayor Dr. Joan Clos and Deputy Director Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, former Mayor of Kigali, Uganda. Following exchange between participants and panelists, MAS President Vin Cipolla summarized the key points raised. The stresses of rapid urbanization place extraordinary pressures on natural environments and resources. Countries, especially in the developing world should establish national urban policies with incentives to encourage the development of many intermediate cities (and not just single, sprawling mega-cities). As agrarian reforms are introduced to countries, urbanization will occur and cities will develop more diverse economies and hopefully become part of a global supply chain. We need to learn more about how cities can build their economical, social and environmental resilience. Do we need new forms of governance–or learning exchanges–between cities and across their regions? Women in cities around the world are most often the ones who tend to their neighborhoods and communities: how can we strengthen their roles? Vin closed the session by thanking our MAS partner UN-Habitat for hosting the session and noting that MAS is looking forward to more interactions that engage our constituencies with this larger global discussion about creating livable and resilient cities, starting at the MAS Summit for New York City on October 18th and 19th.