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New York, 23 Sept 13

UN-Habitat has launched its biannual flagship report, the Global Report on Human Settlements 2013 - Planning and Design for Sustainable Urban Mobility at a press conference in New York in the run up to the United Nations General Assembly.

In the report UN-Habitat says the greatest challenge to urban mobility comes from the fixation with building or expanding transport infrastructure, over increasingly long distances, rather than ensuring people greater access to destinations and facilities that satisfy their needs. The report suggests that urban planners and decision-makers must realize the human right of people to equitable access and make the fulfillment of that right the focus of their efforts to improve urban mobility.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Clos said, “Urbanization is growing very fast particularly in developing countries, where populations and number of motorized vehicles are rising at rates where urban infrastructure investments are unable to keep pace. This report will serve as a starting point to guide local authorities and other stakeholders to address the challenges faced by urban transportation systems all over the world.”

The report states that there is a huge disconnect between transport needs and investments, where – despite over half of all passenger and goods trips being by foot, bicycle or rickshaw – the bulk of transport investments focus on cars.

“Mobility is not just about developing transport infrastructure and services; it is about overcoming the social, economic, political and physical barriers to movement, such as class, gender relations, poverty, physical disabilities and affordability,” says Dr Joan Clos in the report foreword. "The right to equitable access is about empowering people to exercise their basic human rights to the fullest."

Published every two years, the Global Report on Human Settlements provides an up-to-date assessment of conditions and trends in the world’s cities and other human settlements. These reports are essential tools and references for researchers, academics, planners, public authorities and civil society organizations around the world. 

The theme of this year’s publication, Planning and Design for Sustainable Urban Mobility, is also the topic of this year’s World Habitat Day, celebrated annually on the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of human settlements and sustainable urbanization. 

You can read the highlights of the report in the press kit here.

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