Slow Living – Expo 2010′s “Better City, Better Life” theme attracts world-class thinkers

Monday, October 4th, 2010
Slow Living - Expo 2010's "Better City, Better Life" theme attracts world-class thinkers

As visitor numbers top 57 million, Expo 2010, the world forum for global innovation and inspirational thinking, underway in Shanghai, China, since May 1, has gathered 100 eminent voices to share their thoughts on this year’s theme of “Better City, Better Life”.

An exhilarating and vital topic – how to interpret the common goal of mankind for better living in the urban environments of the future – the theme couldn’t be more exciting for the Slow Living community. Here are some of those voices, added to each day for 100 days prior to the opening of the Expo:

100 Voices – They say this, but what do you say?

During the progress of human civilization, people gradually settled out of nomadic living and then congregated from scattered settlements into what was the precursor of cities. The invention of machines freed workers from heavy physical labor, created trade and met diversity of demand. The division of labor encouraged the specialization of skills and talent. All these forces have enabled people to make the best use of their abilities and acquire what they need. It is cities that have endowed upon us the possibility of co-equal existence.
Wang Anyi, Chinese author and chairwoman of the Writers’ Association of Shanghai

Young people should try to find their road into the future so that they can build a world for the 21st century. This world will carry a brighter mark of the Chinese culture, as I believe, because China will surely come to the fore as a new force in the world during this century. I also hope that Chinese youths should have the whole world in their view, while the young people in other parts of the world should focus their eye on China.
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former Prime Minister of France, senator for Vienne.

The 21st century will be an important period of urban development. The world’s population living in cities has already exceeded more than half of the world total. The future growth of the world population will be mainly concentrated in the cities of developing countries. How to build harmonious cities to achieve sustainable development of cities is a significant and pressing global challenge.
Sha Zukang, born in 1947, head of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

We live in a rapidly urbanizing world. Today, around half of the world’s population – or an estimated 3.3 billion people – live in metropolitan areas. In China alone, every year 20 million people move into cities. This global trend is projected to continue as people move from rural areas to cities in search of better jobs and living standards, or – in the parlance of human development – look to expand their choices in terms of income and access to better health, education services and infrastructure.

With rapid urban expansion also come major environmental challenges. The ecological footprint of cities has traditionally been characterized by inefficient and unsustainable resource use, along with concentrated pollution and excessive waste generation. Environmental degradation can be severe, as more and more people concentrate in a limited area and compete for scarce resources. Climate change threatens to further exacerbate the negative environmental outcomes.

Such trends pose a great danger to future generations. These challenges, however, can be tackled, provided that public and private concerns come together around urban development models based on achieving a better equilibrium between economic growth and social and environmental needs.

Addressing environmental degradation and improving the way natural resources are distributed and used is a beginning. Investment is needed in clean air and water, health, waste management and noise pollution.

Helen Clark, UN Development Programme chief

Read more from the 100 voices here

What would make your city a better place to live, for you or future generations? Tell us here…

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