New York, 27 May 2014

Today at the United Nations, President Kagame gave the keynote address at the 2014 Integration Segment on Sustainable Urbanization hosted by the Economic Social Council. Held for the first time, the conference focused on the environmental, economic and social aspects of sustainable urbanization.

President Kagame emphasized the role of urbanization in ensuring economic development:

“Urbanisation can help reduce poverty, sustainably, in ways that handouts never can. Growth without planned urbanisation, in contrast, is a recipe for soaring inequality. The choice is not whether to urbanise or not. The issue is whether we manage it in such a way that we obtain, together with our citizens, the maximum benefits possible.”

Emphasizing the need to ensure urbanization does not become the privilege of a few; President Kagame added that inclusive urbanization forms an essential priority for national development in Rwanda with an emphasis on inclusive urbanization:

“Cities have to work for everyone, Industries and investors, Real estate developers, the middle class, Environmentalists and above all, the young people struggling to make a better life. It is important to resist the tendency to equate ambitious urban design, particularly in Africa, with an anti-poor agenda. It is not just the well-off who appreciate and benefit from an orderly and predictable urban environment.”

President Kagame shared Rwanda’s focus on people centred efforts for urbanization that cater for all:

“In Rwanda, urbanization includes an ever improving decentralisation system within which citizens participate in the decision-making process. Rwanda also seeks to establish financing and supply options for affordable housing and related services, such as education and health, to address the needs of low income earners.”

The three day Integration Segment will discuss cities as drivers of sustainable development, urban inequalities, sustainable urbanization, effective governance and policy planning for urban areas and innovation partnerships.

President Kagame addressed the opening alongside Vice President of Colombia Angelino Garzón, Vice President of the General Assembly Isabelle Picco, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg and Vice President of the U.N. Economic and Social Council Vladimir Drobnjak.