“The motto we chose in Germany for the year of our G7 Presidency is: ‘Progress towards an equitable world’,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the start of the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Urban Development in Potsdam on Tuesday. This was why urban development belonged at the top of the agenda.
Joining forces for sustainable urban development
The Federal Chancellor explained that the Federal Government had initiated the first G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Urban Development for this reason. Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz stressed the ministers’ wish to coordinate long-term cooperation for sustainable urban development.
“We never needed this type of meeting as much as we do now,” the Minister said. She continued to explain that the western industrial nations and the global south had to join forces to find solutions for the global challenges and concerns of humankind that had become significantly greater and more complex. Issues that needed to be addressed included climate change, digitalisation, economic competition, the greater number of people who have fled their homes, and rapid urbanisation, Geywitz said.
Solutions for a good future in and from cities
More than half of humankind lives in cities around the world. The Federal Chancellor is convinced that places where many people coexist are breeding grounds not only for problems “but especially for solutions”. He continued to say that cities never ceased to prove attractive, as they were places where people found jobs, purpose and perspectives for their lives. Cities – even very big ones – “can grow in a way that is beneficial to prosperity, quality of life, the economy, culture and the academic sector,” Scholz stressed.
This was why good and sustainable urban development policies had to create suitable conditions for a working infrastructure, excellent schools and universities, first-rate childcare, functional public transport and cycling paths, attractive public spaces “and, of course, sufficient affordable housing of a decent quality,” the Federal Chancellor said.
Support for rebuilding Ukraine
Another key issue discussed at the meeting is the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, which the G7 states strongly condemn. The Federal Chancellor highlighted that he was particularly pleased to have the Ukrainian Minister Olesiy Chernyshov join the meeting as a guest using digital technology. On his visit to Kyiv in June, the Minister himself had shown him “the severity of suffering and destruction”.
“At the same time, I was deeply impressed by the strength and willpower of Ukrainians, who refuse to have their future taken away,” Scholz emphasised. “This is why we are providing concrete support on a daily basis, together with our partners also beyond the G7. This is why we are already cooperating with you to ensure that the destroyed towns and cities can be rebuilt – sustainably and in consideration of the climate.”
Reconstruction conference on 25 October
The Federal Chancellor announced that the Federal Government and the EU Commission would be extending invitations to an international reconstruction conference for Ukraine on 25 October. This event would in particular be dedicated to “realising the required financial strength for worldwide support”.
Work was already underway for drawing up plans to rebuild the cities and the destroyed infrastructure in Ukraine. The ministers for urban development are available to help Ukraine with their expertise and will provide support and guidance to the country on its long journey towards reconstruction.
In the context of the German G7 Presidency and at the invitation of Germany’s Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz, the urban development ministers from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA are meeting for the first time on 12 and 13 September 2022. The Minister will host and lead the work process of the G7 ministers of sustainable urban development until 31 December 2022.