United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


Statement by Brian Williams, Chief Energy and Transport Section, Nairobi, Kenya
I would like to make a statement on behalf of UN-Habitat concerning air pollution and
The year 2007 marks a historic crossroads in human history. For the first time, half of
humanity will be living in towns and cities. Our research shows that by 2030, this figure
will rise to two-thirds. We thus live at a time of unprecedented and irreversible
urbanisation. The cities growing fastest are those of the developing world. And the fastest
growing neighborhoods are slums. Indeed, 2007 will also be the year in which the global
number of slum dwellers is forecast to reach the 1 billion mark.
In terms of urban transport patterns within developing country cities, the trajectory is
sobering. We already have and urban health crisis on our hands through increasing levels
of air pollution. The urban poor are especially vulnerable to this hazard and suffer the
most from income losses through sickness and unproductive commuting times. The costs
of urban air pollution are estimated to be upwards of 5% of GDP in developing countries.
On a global level, private motor vehicles are among the biggest contributors to GHG
emissions and other emissions worldwide. The growth in urban travel demand in both
the developed and particularly.
An often overlooked but crucial part of the urban transport fabric in developed as well
as developing country cities is the use of non-motorized transport or in other words
bicycling and walking. In many instances this mode of transport is already the
overwhelming majority of all urban transport trips. And yet despite this fact, it is often
neglected in the design and modernization of either new or existing urban transport
infrastructure investments. However, this completely environmentally benign transport
technology is under threat from increasing rates of motorization, particularly in
developing country cities.
Non-motorized transport must begin to be viewed as an integral component of the urban
transport patterns in all cities. Steps must be taken to encourage the proper amount and
design of NMT-friendly infrastructure to cater for this mode of transport.
Indeed, at some point, this hugeand vast army of the underserved urban poor are going
to begin to demand mobility and transport. If we rely exclusively on motorized transport
to me+et this future demand, there will catastrophic environmental impacts on the global
environment,. We must ensure we maintain a rich diversity of transport modes to capture
this demand, including continuing to make our cities as pedestrian and bicycle-friendly as
Thank you for your time and attention.