[9 December 2013] -- The death of Nelson Mandela on 5th December 2013 has reverberated around the world, and led to real mourning for the loss of the world’s great statesman. It has also sparked the celebration of his many achievements in a truly remarkable life. The urban development community in general, and the Cities Alliance in particular, also owes President Nelson Mandela a large debt.
In 1999, President Mandela travelled to Berlin to launch the Cities Alliance’s Cities without Slums Action Plan, which was drafted by founding members World Bank and UN-Habitat, and of which he was the Patron. With his enormous international stature, and his identification with justice, human rights and the cause of the marginalized, President Mandela drew international attention to urban poverty , and the plight of the hundreds of millions of slum-dwellers all over the world.
Through his intervention, the goal of significantly improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers - originally an internal target for the Cities Alliance – was incorporated into the Millennium Assembly in 2000 and, subsequently, became a target within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Through President Mandela, the challenges and opportunities of urbanization, the growth of slums, and the marginalization of millions of poor people received international recognition for the first time. Addressing Cities Alliance members, he said that, `Poverty reduction and upgrading of informal settlements will not be possible unless cities are productive and efficient, and capable of providing the poor with economic opportunities to build their assets and incomes.`
Through its unique membership, and very clear mandate, the Cities Alliance will ensure that President Mandela’s vision and foresight will continue to guide us in our work.
President Nelson Mandela at the 1999 Berlin launch of the Cities Alliance’s Cities without Slums Action Plan, flanked by World Bank President James Wolfensohn and Heidimarie Wieczorek-Zeul, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development.