Plans unveiled by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Earth Day to reduce the strain on natural resources such as water, air and land were warmly embraced by officials with the United Nations department that promotes sustainable development.

“This is exactly the type of initiative that we would like more cities and communities to undertake,” says UN Director of Sustainable Development JoAnne DiSano.

“Real development has to allow for economic growth and social development in an environmentally balanced way. We are strongly encouraged by this proposal.” The proposal unveiled on Sunday calls for a more energy-efficient city, including by rebuilding aging water mains, fostering greater support for mass transit, putting limits on vehicular congestion, and creating more energy-efficient buildings.

Energy issues, climate change, air pollution and industrial development are all key matters up for consideration by the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), that will open in New York next Monday and run from 30 April-11 May. More than 2,000 delegates and citizen groups will attend the meeting, which makes recommendations that affect all countries.

The CSD is unique among UN commissions in that it involves participation from all sectors of society and it is the place where countries and organizations showcase new ideas and innovations for sustainable development. According to UN statistics, about 50 per cent of the world’s population is living in cities today. By 2030 this percentage will be over 60 per cent.

To ensure a viable future, Ms. DiSano said cities can take a leadership role in addressing the strain on the environment caused by urbanization and a growing population.

“The issues that New York City is addressing are the key issues that all countries and communities must address,” Ms. DiSano said. “If we are going to make a difference on air pollution and climate change, if we are going to have cleaner cities, we need to take a different approach.” She said that the fact that more cities from around the world were adopting sustainable development policies was particularly encouraging.

“More and more people have come to understand that sustainable development makes sense,” she said, “and it is a process that can help more people enjoy fuller and more productive lives.”


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