Published: Saturday 15 June 1996

The problems of the world's cities are likely to occupy centrestage at the second UN conference on human settlements in Istanbul, Turkey, this June. Some analysts, however, doubt whether urban issues should assume such an important role at the summit. "For whom are we building cities?" questions Sujit Chowdhury, chairperson of the World IYouth Leadership Training Summit at Canada's York University. "The benefits of traditional urban assistance programmes, will reach only 10 per cent of the people," he argues. The World Bank (WB) also agrees with the above line of thinking and believes in combating urban poverty by perking up rural development. Considering the imminent breakdown of infrastructure that Third World cities like Karachi and Mexico City are facing. the subject of urban decay will certainly grab most of the attention at the summit.

The Midrand declaration issued recently at the end of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)-IX meet in South Africa. seams to appease the rich and the poor nations of the world. Reluctant developed countries have agreed to the UNCTAD playing a role in strengthening its coordination with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other multilateral institutions.

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