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Children provide keys to perfect future city

EMILY, 8, from New York, hopes everyone rides a bike, Tyler, 10, from Johannesburg, hopes he can walk to school and Bastet, 5, from Cairo, hopes the city smells nice.

The children were responding to a question: "What would be different in the city of your dreams?"

The poll drew children from all over the world at the Urban Planet Pavilion, one of five themed pavilions at the Expo site.

All the cities the three children featured live in face the pressures of population growth, resource strain, climate change and pollution.

More than half the world's population lives in cities, and that will be three-quarters by 2050, according to the United Nations.

"People should restrain from exploiting the Earth's natural resources too much. And they should stop sabotaging the environment," said China Telecom employee Cheng Zhuo after he visited the pavilion.

It took millions of years to turn biomass into coal and oil, natural gas and peat. But in just the last century, humans have burned up more of it than they did in the previous millennium.

Carmen Bueno, designer of the Pavilion of the Future, put it succinctly by saying: "The urban future is derived from the present."

As the first Expo to feature the theme "City," the Shanghai World Expo, which opened to the public on Saturday, is a platform for visitors to understand cities.

"The Expo has alerted us to environmental protection, and it inspires us to work out more reasonable plans for the cities of the future," said 86-year-old Expo-visitor Zheng Jiwen.

The Urban Planet Pavilion shows how cities' development - sometimes over-development - creates ecological problems, and how people have responded to urbanization and environmental challenges.

The answers to questions about how cities and the planet can coexist are not only in the Urban Planet Pavilion.

They lie in every corner of the Expo site, which has translated them into different ideas, technologies and research.


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