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UNU Hosts Rio+20 Preparatory Symposium on Sustainable Urban Development

22 March 2012: The UN University's Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) and the UN Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD) held a symposium on sustainable cities in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The symposium, titled "Sustainable Urban Development: Challenges and Issues in Developing Countries," was held on 22 March 2012, in Tokyo, Japan, and explored sustainability issues in cities in Japan and beyond. It featured an introductory video message by Sha Zukang, Secretary-General of Rio+20, in which he described the sustainability challenges facing cities. The symposium also included: two panel discussions; a case study presentation; and a question-and-answer session.

The first panel focused on “Sustainable Urban Management,” featuring presentations on transportation and human habitats, as well as the linkages among disasters, development and ecosystem preservation. The second panel focused on “Natural Resource Management for Sustainable Development,” and included presentations on the importance of urban resilience, with reference to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and on natural resource management for sustainable urban development. A case study presentation focused on sustainable urban development at the local level in the city of Kitakyushu, Japan. According to UNU, the city has implemented projects aimed at lowering waste and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through alternative energy facilities, promotion of mass transit, and residential recycling and composting programmes.

During the question-and-answer session, panellists discussed institutional frameworks and governance challenges, one of the main themes at Rio+20. [UNU Press Release]