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UN-Habitat unveils first report on "State of Arab Cities" in Kuwait

KUWAIT, May 4 (KUNA) -- The Kuwait-base United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) launched on Friday the first report on "The State of Arab Cities 2012," outlining the problems and challenges facing sustainable urban development and setting forth the solutions to them.
The launching of the report takes place shortly before the conference on municipal management and sustainable urban development in the Arab region.
The conference, to be organized by Kuwait Municipality on May 7-9, under auspices of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, is a preparatory meeting for the sixth session of the World Urban Forum, slated for early September in Naples, south Italy.
Commenting on the report, Executive Director of the UN-HABITAT Dr. Joan Clos said the Arab region is at a critical crossroads in terms of sustainable development under the ongoing political and social upheavals.
The key challenge is how to rewrite all policies in order to ensure higher economic growth rates and better living conditions for all segments of people and in a sustainable way, a statement by Kuwait Municipality quoted Dr. Clos as saying.
He noted that the Arab countries constitute the world's most diversified region in terms of the conditions of cities, discrepancies in the level of their social and educational levels as shown in the UN reports on their urban development.
The highest levels of education and urban development were registered in Kuwait - 94.5 and 98.4 percent respectively on the national level, he added.
The new report shows that 18 percent of the population in the Arab region live below the poverty line and the oil revues represent 40-50 percent of state budgets in the oil-rich countries which are poised to achieve most of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015.
It suggests launching partnerships among the Arab cities to promote urban development, realize the regional integration, improve the road and railway networks, hook up the power grids, and maximize trade exchanges. (end) mf.abd.gb KUNA 042014 May 12NNNN