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Shanghai World Expo ends with pledge for inclusive growth

world Updated: Oct 31, 2010 21:07 IST

IANS
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The six-month long Shanghai World Expo drew to a close on Sunday with participants pledging to tackle the challenges of population explosion, environmental damage, urban poverty and cultural conflicts.

Participant countries and organisations jointly issued the Shanghai Declaration, which pledged to build cities that establish harmony between diverse people, between development and environment, and between cultural legacies and future innovations, Xinhua reported.

The declaration is a "summary of the substantive achievements" of the Expo and "an expression of the shared aspirations of people round the world for a 'Better City, Better Life'", the statement said.

Cities should look to innovations as solutions in tackling the challenges of urban development, including population explosion, traffic congestion, environmental pollution, resource shortages, urban poverty and cultural conflicts, it said.

This Expo "offers hope for tackling the growing challenges of our age of urbanisation", UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the forum, hoping China will be an urban pioneer.

Participants proposed in the joint statement that cities should promote the use of renewable energy sources and build low-carbon eco-cities, and pursue inclusive and balanced growth.

Efforts should be made to promote scientific and technological innovation as a path to development, the declaration said, urging more investment in information and communication technology infrastructure to strengthen services across multiple sectors.

The declaration also proposed that Oct 31, the closing day of the World Expo 2010, should be nominated as World Better Cities Day, in a bid to recall, renew and advance ideas and practices of the Shanghai Expo for future development.

It called upon the world to promote sustainable urban development, foster cooperation and exchanges among cities and regions, and share experiences and lessons in urbanisation.

"The theme of the Expo is particularly relevant at a time when the majority of the planet's population is living in cities and while a large migration of the world's rural population is moving into the cities," Jean Pierre Lafon, President of the International Exhibitions Bureau, said.

The Expo, which opened May 1 in Shanghai, drew the participation of 246 countries and international organisations, by far the largest number since the first World Expo was held in Britain in 1851.

It has attracted more than 73 million visitors, surpassing the targeted 70 million set by organisers and breaking the record of 64 million in 1970 Osaka World Expo in Japan.