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Francesca De Ferrari, UN-HABITAT Office in New York intervened during the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference

Urban and rural spaces are inextricably linked economically, socially, and environmentally, and addressing them in isolation is inadequate. The urban-rural continuum demonstrates the interconnectedness of these spaces, emphasizing that the challenges and opportunities they present are intertwined. Effective solutions must consider this relationship to be truly sustainable and impactful.

Recognizing this continuum highlights the importance of partnerships, collaboration, and unity in action. When urban and rural areas work together, they can achieve greater dividends for all people, irrespective of age, gender, or location. Such collaboration ensures that the benefits of development are equitably distributed, enhancing the quality of life for everyone and fostering inclusive growth.

As stated by FRANCESCA DE FERRARI, Programme Management Officer at UN-HABITAT New York, by bridging the urban-rural divide, we can create a more cohesive and resilient society that leverages the strengths of both settings for mutual benefit,


“Thank you, Aliye. It's always hard to come after Lance and all his passion, but I will try. Distinguished delegates, dear colleagues, dear friends, ladies, and gentlemen, I'm honored to stand before you to discuss a topic of paramount importance in our pursuit of sustainable development, urban-rural linkages, and their role in fostering clean energy solutions for both urban and rural communities. As a representative of UN-HABITAT, a United Nations program working towards a better urban future, I'm deeply invested in exploring and advocating for strategies that promote inclusive and sustainable development across all regions. 
Firstly, let me provide a brief overview of UN-HABITAT's mission in sustainable urban development. UN-HABITAT enables to promotion of socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities to provide adequate shelter for all and improve the quality of urban living. Our work encompasses a wide range of areas, including housing, infrastructure, urban planning, and environmental sustainability. Urban-rural linkages are integral to our vision of sustainable urban development. These linkages present a mere geographic connection. They represent a complex web of economic, social, and environmental interdependencies. It's crucial to recognize that the prosperity of an urban area is intertwined with the well-being of rural communities and vice versa. By fostering strong linkages between urban and rural areas, we can harness the strength of both to address common challenges and achieve shared goals. 
One of the key frameworks through which we approach urban-rural linkages is the sustainable development goals. These global targets provide a roadmap for addressing pressing issues such as clean energy SDG7, sustainable cities and communities SDG11, and climate action SDG13. Urban-rural linkages play a vital role in advancing these goals by facilitating collaboration and resource sharing between urban and rural areas. UN-Habitat has been actively engaged in promoting urban-rural linkages through various initiatives and partnerships. 
Since the adoption of the Resolution on Enhancing Urban-Rural Linkages for Sustainable Urbanization in 2019, we have worked in over 13 countries to localize guiding principles for urban-rural linkages. These principles guide our efforts in creating sustainable and inclusive regions where urban and rural areas thrive in harmony. Our work spans policy integration, research, capacity development, and knowledge dissemination. We have supported the integration of urban-rural linkages in urban policies at national levels in Cameroon, Guinea-Conakry, and sub-national levels in Zanzibar, Tanzania, and Nigerian states. These include detailed policy reviews in seven other countries in Africa. These reveal that solutions on urban-rural linkages are not one-size-fits-all. Different countries and territories within the same countries identify diverse entry points, including food systems, and enhance their urban-rural integration. 
The policy option also varies from mainstreaming urban-rural linkages approaches across departments to defining singular entity responsibility for urban-rural development work. We continue striving to support more countries at national and subnational levels to define their own road map to ensure no one is disadvantaged despite their geographical location. Similarly, we aim to integrate people-centered approaches with biodiversity-sensitive approaches to territorial development. Our collaboration with academia and government institutions from Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zimbabwe in research on the food and urban-rural linkages approaches resulted in the establishment of a Center for Urban-Rural Linkages in Africa. The Center is domiciled at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, to support evidence-based solutions to urban-rural linkages issues in Africa. The Center will also act as an incubation center for future urban practitioners who acknowledge the significance of functional urban-rural linkages through collaboration with academia.
We have successfully equipped over 500 urban practitioners, including physical planners in capacity development events in Kenya, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Mozambique. They continue to be our change agents in their context for future formulation and implementation of plans, policies, and related initiatives. We have also developed various knowledge products that have been instrumented not only in building capacity advocacy but also in supporting country activities. They include the following. Guides for mainstreaming urban-rural linkages in urban policy developed and piloted in six countries. 
We have also finalized three editions of the Compendium of Urban-Rural Linkages, a collection of over 60 case studies from over 50 countries. The Compendium has not only been a tool for advocacy, and sharing knowledge, but also a tool for enhancing and building new partnerships. New stakeholders have expressed interest in sharing their experiences related to the subject through the Compendium of case studies. Capacity-building material, including an online course, has been assessed and reused by diverse groups. We continue to improve and make the course more user-friendly and accessible to as many stakeholders as possible. We have also an ongoing drafting of the global report, which includes thematic articles such as the survey results from over 20 countries globally. 
Green energy transition is a critical aspect of sustainable development, and urban-rural linkages play a crucial role in promoting it. By linking urban expertise and financing with rural natural resources, we can facilitate renewable energy production, energy efficiency initiatives, and the adoption of green technology. Resource sharing: urban areas possess financial and technological resources, while rural areas hold natural resources like land and renewable energy potential. Linking these areas enables resource sharing, allowing rural communities access to urban expertise and financing for the clean energy project. Energy production and distribution. Urban-rural linkages facilitate clean energy production and distribution. Urban investment in renewable energy infrastructure in rural areas, like solar farms or wind turbines, meets urban energy demand sustainably while creating rural economic opportunities.
Waste management and biomass utilization. Urban waste can be converted into biogas or biomass for energy production. The partnership between urban waste management systems and rural energy produces efficiently utilized biomass resources, contributing to clean energy generation and waste reduction. Technological innovation knowledge transfer. Urban centers drive innovation and technology. Linking urban and rural areas allows for knowledge transfer and the adoption of clean energy solutions in rural communities, supporting low economic development. Community engagement and capacity building. Urban-rural collaboration promotes community engagement and capacity-building for clean energy transition. By involving local stakeholders, communities can implement tailored clean energy solutions that meet their needs and priorities. 
And last, the policy integration and planning. Integrated urban-rural planning enables comprehensive clean energy policies. Considering the interconnectedness between areas, policymakers can design coordinated initiatives optimizing clean energy production, distribution, and consumption, accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy. In conclusion, urban-rural linkages are essential for promoting sustainable development and clean energy solutions in both urban and rural communities. Through collaboration, innovation, and inclusive policy, we can build a future where urban and rural areas thrive in harmony, leaving no one behind. Thank you”.


The FINAL DECLARATION of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference is now available! The Plan of Action including a list of projects and proposals that emerged from the discussion will be available soon. STAY TUNED!

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