Visakhapatnam: Union minister of state for Urban Development Rao Inderjit Singh urged the BRICS nations to step up cooperation to effectively address the new urban agenda focussing on inclusive urban development.

Participating in the concluding session of the 3rd BRICS Urbanisation Forum in the city on Friday, Singh said the member countries should ensure effective follow up actions in pursuance of new urban agenda to be finalised at the Habitat-III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, next month. He further said there is immense scope for cooperation among BRICS nations on matters of urbanisation based on respective experiences and shared goals. Appreciating the intense three-day deliberations, he stressed the need to enhance capacities of urban local bodies.

Meanwhile, policy makers and experts from BRICS nations stressed the need for adopting a ‘zero waste’ approach through reuse and recycling in a focussed manner. During a discussion on ‘Resilient Water and Sanitation Management’, Xu Hayun, chief engineer of China Construction Group, said daily 2,10,000 tonne of municipal solid waste is recycled in the city of Shenzen to generate 4,300 MW of electricity. He said waste-to-energy conversion of the city has been substantially enhanced since 1988 when only 150 tonne of such waste was converted into power. He further said 94 per cent of solid waste generated in Chinese cities are being recycled.

Noting that only 1 per cent of readily usable water is available for use by humanity with 97 per cent of water being in seas and another 2 per cent being locked up in deep aquifers, NA Buthelegi of South Africa called for adoption of appropriate technologies and response mechanisms to meet water needs of people. She called for a holistic approach to water management given the linkages with various other utilities. She said in South Africa, 15,000 water ambassadors are pressed into service to educate people about proper water use.

During a discussion on ‘New Towns and Regional Planning’, the experts called for developing new urban habitations based on sound economic logic so that the inhabitants of such new locations are not pushed into ‘poverty traps’.

Zou-Kota Fredericks, South Africa’s deputy minister for settlements, while expressing concern over the growing slums and informal settlements in urban areas, called for ensuring liveable and sustainable human settlements in urban areas.

Jagan Shah, director of National Institute of Urban Affairs, ministry of urban development, said urban renaissance in India is based on five pillars — empowering urban local bodies, citizen participation, capacity building of stakeholders, effective urban planning and augmenting financial resources of cities and towns.