President Osmani's address on World Habitats Day

Distinguished guests,
Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Kurti,
Honourable Head of the UN-Habitat Office in Kosovo Mr. Siddique
Honourable Minister Aliu,
Honourable UN Development Coordinator Mrs. Richardson
Honourable deputies, academics, representatives of civil society,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is now 2021, and we are only 9 years away from 2030 – the year when we aim for the whole world to find itself in a position in which we enjoy greater well-being, a higher standard of living-when poverty and hunger will be under control, almost fully eradicated, and when living within our settlements will contribute to our physical and mental health.

This was the beginning of the Sustainable Development Goals, which were formulated and designed with the idea of ​​mobilizing our societies for greater awareness of the daily impact of our actions on the ecosystems around us and on the planet on which we live. The 2030 agenda has a single goal – it aims that by 2030 we all live better, with greater well-being and more equality.

Today we are also only 29 years away from 2050. In accordance with the Paris Agreement, within this period we must work hard and work closely together to remove carbon from the axis of our human and economic activity.

This is the second pandemic year and the pandemic has revealed much more clearly than ever before the problems in the management and policy-making systems of our time. It is clear to us that things cannot continue to be done as we have done them for a long while. In addition to raising awareness of the importance of working together to protect collective health, the pandemic should also serve as a call to make things differently, more inclusive and with a more lasting impact. And above all, as a call to take responsibility at all levels.

In this journey, collective responsibility and individual responsibility go head to head, because success will be possible only when everyone, from both the local and central level, state and non-state actors work together and become part of finding solutions to the problems and challenges we face.

It is more than fair that statistics show that cities today make up more than 50% of the planet's population, 80% of global economic output, two-thirds of global energy consumption, and more than 70% of annual global emissions, we need to come together today to discuss ways to accelerate action at the urban level to contribute towards a carbon-free world. Not long ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “Cities are where the climate battle will be won or lost.”

And with the growing trends of urbanization, the central role of cities will continue to grow more and more. It is predicted that by 2050, more than 70% of the world's population will live in cities. In other words, the need for urban infrastructure is growing so it is high time we acted. Therefore, our next best opportunity to truly act in this direction is today, because the right time to invest in our wise cities was yesterday.

And as we talk today about the importance of action in this regard, we all have the opportunity to make a difference very quickly. The first option is to select those who will
be in charge of planning and policy-making at the local level in your municipality. Not that I want to politicize this presentation, but in these local elections I invite you to use
the campaign days to communicate with your favourite candidates and ask them directly to make sure that their programs include as much as possible of what we already refer to as the “Green Agenda”. Do not miss this opportunity – start asking for the necessary change. Start from your municipality! Start in your hometown!

One thing is clear. While every day has its unique requirements, the main sectors that directly contribute to building sustainable and smarter cities of the future are: mobility, energy, environment, and urban planning. And it is the identification and proposal of appropriate policies in these areas that will help us achieve the desired results.

To succeed in this direction, in addition to the will, but also to the budget – we must above all have the vision in order to achieve this goal. And today I am here to say that I feel that the new institutions of Kosovo do not lack vision. Our institutions are clear about why we need to work hard for a carbon-free future. To you who we are seeing here today, it is quite clear why we must act in this direction. Our young people are proving every day that they know more and more each day and are aware of why we should leave carbon footprints behind. Therefore, as never before, I see that we have the golden opportunity to join forces to make change possible in this regard.

Therefore, I invite you to work together to build and implement smart, sustainable and green cities. To work together for a future where instead of fossil fuels such as coal, we choose renewable energy sources. Instead of isolation, we choose inclusiveness. Instead of concrete, we choose green spaces. Instead of private transport, we focus on public transport. In a nutshell, a future where we enable the coexistence of economic development with the protection of ecosystems and habitats that surround us. And during the journey, we must ensure that our work is guided by the principles of promoting and guaranteeing gender equality and inclusion. This is our only chance to score a real success.

And at the end, in order that all that both I and Mr. Siddique said, and I believe that we will also hear from the Prime Minister and others, to become a reality, Kosovo must have its place at the table, and have its voice in COP26 in order for us to be heard. It is not just that climate change affects only United Nations member states. You can no longer isolate Kosovo and on the other hand demand the same requirements and percentages as for the member states of the United Nations. The time has come for our voice to be heard because no matter how small our country is, we too can contribute to what has been called a collective responsibility for the protection of our planet.

Thank you and I wish you lots of success!

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