Naples prepares to host 114 nations at World Urban Forum

The event takes place sept. 1-7, focus on impact of urbanization

03 August, 16:03

(ANSAmed) - Naples, August 3 - With just under one month to go before the opening, it's crunch time for final preparations at the World Urban Forum in Naples.

Now in its sixth edition, the forum was established by the United Nations to examine what it calls 'one of the most pressing problems facing the world today,' that of rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

Known as the premier conference on cities, the high-profile event takes place September 1-7 and is expected to draw up to 20,000 participants, including heads of state, mayors and urban-planning experts from 114 countries.

Already 5,000 people have signed up, according to UN-Habitat, the group organizing the event at the Mostra d'Oltremare fair grounds, along with the Italian government, the Naples Municipality and the Campania Festivals Foundation, a Campania Region events body.

'It's a strong initial sign that confirms the global prestige of an event bound to bring great opportunities to Campania, from countries ranging from the United States and Indonesia,' said the promoters in a statement.

'The seven universities in the region and the local consular corps are already hard at work with organizers led by Professor Uberto Siola'.

The theme of the forum is 'The Prosperity of the City', focusing on sustainable urban development in 120 networking events, a dozen round-table discussions and 20 training seminars.

In the last century the world population mushroomed from 1.6 to 6.1 billion people, about half of whom now live in cities, as even more will do 40 years from now when an estimated nine billion people will inhabit the Earth.

Such are the challenges currently facing the planet that forum attendants will try to tackle.

Joan Clos, the UN director in charge of the forum, has called the ancient city known the world over for its history of art and culture a 'fantastic' choice, offering many lessons to the world in terms of urbanization.

According to UN-Habitat, two thirds of human beings, or six billion people, will be living in towns and cities in the next 50 years.

A major challenge, according to organizers, is to minimize burgeoning poverty in cities, improve access of the urban poor to basic facilities such as shelter, clean water and sanitation, and to achieve environmentally friendly, sustainable urban growth and development.

The UN estimates that the global population will top nine billion by 2050 and 10 billion by 2100. But projections are uncertain, as they depend on assumptions about the future, such as how many children a woman will have 20 or 30 years from now.

In 2013 Naples will also play host to the Universal Forum of Cultures, a triennial cultural expo sponsored by UNESCO.

This summer, the Campania Festivals Foundation launched the latest edition of the Naples Theatre Festival.

Sponsored by the Naples Municipality, the festival includes 25 days of shows spread across 30 different performance halls and sites, including outdoor locations such as the Pausilypon Archaeological Park.

Highlights include Italian premieres of works by world-famous directors Robert Wilson and Peter Brook, works by Argentine performers and Israeli dance.

The second and final session of the festival runs September 25-30. (ANSAmed).

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