5th Forum of the World Alliance
of Cities against Poverty
Three hundred delegations representing the 49 least developed countries on earth brought together a thousand participants in the 5th Forum of the World Alliance of Cities against Poverty, held in the Valencia Conference Centre. The Forum, organised jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Valencia City Council and the Valencia Regional Government, was opened on 29 March by International Cooperation Secretary Ms Leire Pajín, President of the Valencia Regional Government Mr Francisco Camps, Mayor of Valencia Ms Rita Barberá and Coordinator of World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty (UNDP) Mr Mohand Cherifi. The meeting was attended, amongst others, by 1998 Príncipe de Asturias Prize for Concord winner Mr Nicolás Castellanos and 2003 Nobel Prize for Peace winner Ms Shirin Ebadi. Queen Sofía closed the Forum on Friday 31 March.
The conference analysed international cooperation and development support in the struggle against urban poverty and commemorated the end of the First World Decade of Struggle against Poverty 1996-2006, declared by the United Nations Secretary General Mr Koffi Annan. For three days there were workshops on the struggle agains poverty, visits to social projects being carried out in the cities of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón, presentations of reports produced at scheduled workshops and solidarity contests for citizen participation. Some of the participants, such as Franco Jimmy Torres, who manages the Local Development Agency in Nariño, Colombia, expressed their satisfaction that "this Forum allows us to exchange experiences and lessons learned elsewhere, thus improving our own policies". Torres also said that the struggle against poverty is not easy, "it is a worldwide debate but we know that solutions are closer than we may think: they lie in the cities where people are prepared to work towards solving these problems. Governments should be aware that full human development is achieved on a local level, and therefore only local policies will bring about a reduction in global poverty. Nothing can be done from New York unless cities have their own poverty eradication projects."