Press Releases

    SG/SM/8191
    10 April 2002

    AT BEST, CITIES SERVE AS MODELS OF DEMOCRACY, DIVERSITY, MULTICULTURAL LIVING, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS

    "More Than Half of Humankind Live in Cities", He Adds

    NEW YORK, 9 April (UN Heaquarters) -- Following are today’s remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on receiving the keys to the city of Madrid from José María Álvarez Del Manzano y López Del Hierro, Mayor of Madrid:

    You have truly honoured me by giving me the key to your city. Thanks to this generous tradition in Madrid and elsewhere, I now have quite a collection on my key ring -- making me feel that I have a home in some of the most wonderful cities in the world!

    And Madrid is truly a city of the world. The fact that it is currently hosting the World Assembly on Ageing is just one example of your city’s openness, generosity and energy. And whether people associate it with or not your breathtaking riches of art and culture, your legendary football team, and the vibrancy and sophistication of the place and its people -- Madrid has a meaning for millions of men and women all over the world.

    Today, you and your fellow city-dwellers around the world represent the future of humanity. More than half of humankind live in cities. That is more than 3 billion people. Cities are crossroads of ideas and innovation. At their best, they can serve as models of democracy, diversity and multicultural living. It is from the life of the city, since ancient times, that we derive the notion of citizenship -- and indeed civilization.

    And it is on the character of its citizens that the future of any city depends. I hope that the people of Madrid will take pride in the inspiration their city provides for the rest of the world. I am deeply grateful to you, Mr. Mayor, and all the people of Madrid, for giving me the keys to your city -- I promise to be a good and loyal Madrileño. Muchas gracias, amigos.

    * *** *