Ecology, Equity and Economy – the Tripple E Factor
Statement by Professor Anna Tibaijuka,
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations &
Executive Director of UN-HABITAT
At Tumaini University Graduation Ceremony
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Saturday 7 November 2009.
Honourable Chancellor, Bishop Gehaz Malasusa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania
Chairman of the University Council, Prof. Isaria Kimambo
Hon. Vice Chancellor, Prof. John Shao
The Provost Prof. Geoffrey Mmmari
Graduands, Parents, Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honor to be asked to address this distinguished Alumni and the Graduation Ceremony of this esteemed University. This was an invitation that was gladly received and had to be given top priority, coming as it did from my own boss and mentor, Prof. Geoffrey Mmari. I am glad God has enabled me to make it from New York where I was attending the UN General Assembly. I am delighted to be here on this asuspicious occassion.
At the outset let me applaud and recognize this institution for what it has become, a best practice in matters of higher education provision in this country. I recall very clearly the inception of this project ’HOPE’ or ‘TUMAINI’ in 1997 when I was working at the University of Dar es Salaam. The spectacular growth both in size and standards of teaching that you have achieved are a pride for this nation, an envy for those trying to emulate your example. Tumaini has become a symbol for value based higher education learning in Tanzania in such a short time of its existence. This is a place where ethics, honesty, justice, integrity and dedication to duty are part and parcel of the curricula and everyday life. By incalcuting these values in the students early and consistently, a solid foundation is being laid for graduates from this University to excel both in the professions they have studied as well as the leadership positions they will eventually take. It is an investment in securing our common interest.
Please join me in the round of applause to thank the Lutheran Church of Tanzania for sponsoring this great initiative, the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Provost and all those who have worked long arduous hours to make it happen.
..... Thank you. It has fulfilled a prophesy of the Founding Father of this Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere that ‘IT CAN BE DONE YOU PLAY YOUR PART’.
Turning to my main focus today, the Graduands, this wonderful occasion today marks one of the most important milestones in your lives. It is a milestone that sets you in a special position as future leaders. As many of you know, I myself am a Tanzanian, and much of what I learned here at the University of Dar es Salaam has served me well in my role as a senior executive in the UN system.
I use the term “learned here” to stress that even though I was a teacher, I was learning every day from my colleagues, my students and our studies. I am still learning. There is no end to learning and to education. However, graduation day is a day for stocktaking of what we have achieved after a period of learning, as we embark on yet a new period of learning at the work place where you are now headed.
Graduands, ladies and gentlemen,
As members of the Class of 2009, your are graduating at a critical time in history. As graduands, you should all be familiar with two of the mega-trends that are shaping our societies and our daily lives – globalisation and the information revolution.
However, there is a third mega-trend that is less talked about and perhaps less visible on a daily basis. It is, nonetheless, having an equally important impact on our societies and the way we live. This third megatrend is urbanisation and the growth of cities. With the majority of humanity living in cities and towns since 2008, this is an urban age. Home sapien has transformed into homo urbanus.
This reality in turn brings into focus the need for a paradigm shift in development theory, policy and practice. Incenstant concern with economic development and triple down theories to redistribute wealth in due course ha been discredited. Consensus that instead we must seek balance between Ecology, Equity and Economy, in that order from the outset and not as an afterthought is gaining ground. This Triplle E factor for short, is the new thinking that need to inform and inspire the new work force that you have now joined. Let me elaborate.
The Ecological Dimension:
UN-HABITAT, the agency which I head, deals with the built environment or human ecology, i.e. the human habitats, where we live and work. Our research shows that today half of humanity is living in towns and cities. As pointed out above, this marks the beginning of the new urban era. But more importantly, it is projected that by 2030, or by the time you will be in the middle of your respective careers, two-thirds of humanity will be living in urban areas. Even Africa will seize to be a rural continent by 2030 when 51% of us will be living in cities and towns. Make no mistake, we live at a time of unprecedented, rapid, and irreversible urbanisation. And much as we support Agriculture and Rural Development through initiatives such as KILIMO KWANZA in this country, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Tanzanian cities will continue to grow, doubling their populations every 12-15 years. We therefore have to understand the spatial dimenstion of our existence, our habitats are increasingly becoming urban and we have to prepare for this. Investment in housing and urban infrastructure must be go hand in hand with any rural development initiatives we undertake. They are complementary to each other.
Some facts and figures
There are two other features of our new urban era. The first is that climate change is emerging at the forefront of international debate today at the same time, and virtually at the same pace, as the world becomes urbanized. You might be aware that the world is now emersed in climate talk negotiations in efforts to sealing a deal at the Copenhagen Climate Conference next month. The stakes are high for all of us. For example, those of you from Kilimanjaro are witness of the devastating impact of global warming on the mountain as the snow cap is all but practically gone! Dar es Salaam is itself a low coastal lying city and among a group of cities that would be submerged should sea levels rise by more than 1 metre? Indeed many of us have witnessed Kunduchi beach getting narrower and narrower over the years! In the countryside, tales of alternating droughts and floods have also destabilized farming sytems and crop seasons leading to food insecurity.
Threat to rural livelihoods has triggered premature urbanization with an exodus of people into cities and towns at a pace that was unanticipated. Increasingly we have environmental refugees flocking our chocking cities and towns. Thus, the other feature is that the global number of people living in slums and sub-standard housing is estimated to have reached the 1 billion mark. Did you know, for example, that more than 60 percent of people in African cities live in slums? Are you aware that urban poverty is now becoming a severe, pervasive – and largely unacknowledged – feature of modern life on our continent? That huge numbers of people in towns and cities are suffering levels of deprivation often worse than those experienced by the rural poor?
The Equity Dimension
The locus of global poverty is moving to the cities. It is a process we call the urbanisation of poverty. In our view, it reflects a crisis in governance and government. In terms of governance, we need to be able to live in cities with the democratic space that allows for the inclusion of all citizens, rich and poor, in crucial decision making processes, promoting the rule of law, law enforcement, and the protection of human rights. These are critical to a world vision based on equity, justice and non-violence be it at family or community level.
Cities in Africa contribute 60% to the continent’s GDP, yet only about 34% of the continent’s people live in cities. Johannesburg and Cape Town, for example, each alone account for 15% of South Africa’s GDP.
By 2030, Africa will no longer be a rural continent as by then 51% of
our people will be living in urban areas. In short, irrespective of where we live, our future is urban, and access to urban space will define the quality of that future.
Global estimates indicate that there are 100 million street children around the world. Estimates show that between 700,000 and 1 million people, mostly women and girls, are trafficked around the world each year. Youth gang membership was also estimated to be in the millions worldwide, with institutionalised youth gangs concentrated in cities with high violence rates.
Unless immediate and effective interventions are made today, this situation will become a major threat to social stability, and thus to peace and security. We need to engage our young people, and you are a case in point, from getting sucked into anti-social behaviour from sheer idleness. And this brings to my final point.
The Economy, Get engaged, be inspired
I do not speak of these realities to shock you, but rather to pointedly engage your energy and passion to play your part in building this nation. It is why today I wish to impress upon you my belief in the concept of Leadership through Service. If you embrace the principles of ecology and equity, you will be successful at economy both privately but also for the public. You will lead a harmonious life and work actively to create one be it in your family or your community and the nationa at large.
Chanakya, a renowned thinker of ancient India, wrote, and I quote: "The leader shall consider as good, not what pleases himself but what pleases his people." The Chinese sage Lao Tzu, in 600 BC, said: "The greatest leader forgets himself, and attends to the development of others." The Gospel of Mark quotes Jesus as saying, and I quote again: "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be slave of all."
In modern times, our great leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Bishop Tutu poured all of their spirit into being of service to their fellow human beings first and foremost, and from there they became the great leaders we recognize and revere. Closer to home our beloeved Founding Father Mwalimu Nyerere never tired to inform my generation that ‘Those who have received the priviledge of educatin have a duty to repay back to community by serving others’. He equated education to a young man given the last food available in a village to travel to distant lands and bring back more food to save the rest. Education therefore opens doors to opportunities but also to great responsibility.
With good leadership, good policies, and good governance, and with good education like the one you have received, we can steer the powerful role that cities play into a better world.
Many of you will agree that over the past year we have faced many social and environmental tsunamis, from the disastrous effects of climate change, the economic meltdown, to a flu pandemic. Each of these events demonstrate that whether rich or poor, North or South, we are all in this together, and we must collectively arrive at just solutions in order for our world to become sustainable.
Youth, particularly urban youth, pose the largest challenge and opportunity of the 21st century. We have to find new ways to invest in what is possibly the world’s most dynamic demographic: young people under the age of 30 who make up over 70% of the population in the poorest countries in the world; many of whom live in cities, often in slums.
You, as young graduands, are crucial in our move towards smarter, more inclusive cities and more sustainable development.
International agencies such as UN HABITAT recognize that we face an unprecedented opportunity – if we invest in young people, even in a small way, we can cause a ripple effect which will bring about positive economic, social and environmental change globally.
As you move on, perhaps into further studies or into new jobs and explore the opportunites that are out there, I urge you to take a few minutes, and look at our website, UN-HABITAT.org.
You will learn all about our Opportunities Fund for Urban Youth-Led Development. Funded by Norway, it is a global fund which not only financially supports hundreds of youth-led initiatives on issues ranging from climate change to HIV/AIDS, but also allows us to research and learn from these initiatives and to harness the wisdom of youth!
We have always believed at UN-HABITAT that we we can achieve sustainable urban development through collective local action for the attainment of global goals in partnership with young people.
All of this requires turning innovative ideas into action. I believe that our youth can and will rise to this challenge. As fellow Tanzanians, I particularly look to you young graduands to help us carry the torch here and to encourage your friends everywhere to join hands for a better, smarter urban future.
New graduands, ladies and gentlemen,
I do not want to dwell too long on these matters. For Graduation Day is one of the most joyous days of our lives. It is a wonderful moment when we open a new chapter with zeal and enthusiasm having studied so hard and for so long. It is a day when we also recognize and thank our parents and sponsors and educators for assisting us to reach our potential.
This is your day, the first day of a future that is both challenguing and full of opportunity.
In concluding, allow me to wish all you the very best success in your future endeavours and to call on all those present here rise and give our Tumaini graduands a hearty hand of congratulations.
Thank you for your kind attention.