KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia :� � Prince of Wales, Prince Charles has addressed the need to ensure a holistic approach to urbanisation, considering settlements of all sizes and enhance the real and effective integration between urban and rural areas.

His Royal Highness said this was to ensure that vital eco-systems, bio-diversity and food production were maintained into the future.

He also addressed the difficulties to comprehend the world’s urban population which was expected to double in the next 40 years.

This alarmingly rapid urbanisation presented urgent and complex challenges for both people and the planet, he noted.

However, if the world’s urban footprint is to grow, we do have an unprecedented opportunity to redefine urban development. If, and only if, planned and managed sensitively, cities can add social, environmental and commercial value, in a way that helps to tackle climate change and foster inclusive prosperity, his Royal Highness said at the closing ceremony of the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF9) here through a five-minute video message.

Prince Charles also emphasisd: Business as usual is not an option if we are to deliver meaningful and positive change for the growing number of people living in towns and cities, and for the generations yet to come whose future is, literally, in our hands.

In the video message, he also stated the need to identify solutions for urban growth that could provide opportunities to smaller, rural settlement with digital technology, so that access to micro finance, social networks and online education could enable a sustainable and distributed economy.

Interestingly, my old university, Cambridge, is researching the whole issue of ‘Smart Villages’ as part of the Cambridge Malaysian Education and Development Trust, he said.

His Royal Highness also wished Maimunah Mohd Sharif every success in her role as the new United Nations Habitat executive director.

WUF9 is being held from Feb 7 until 13. WUF is a non-legislative technical forum convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) since 2002.

It is recognised as the foremost global arena for interaction among policymakers, local government leaders, non-governmental organisations and expert practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development and human settlements.

About 25,000 participants from 185 countries attended the forum.–

Source: NAM News Network