Last weekend (31st October) saw the seventh global celebration of ‘World Cities Day’ focusing on the links between urbanisation and development, especially when it comes to sustainability, encouraging cooperation between countries to address these urban opportunities and challenges.
Launched back in 2014 in Shanghai, China by the United Nations General Assembly, the global celebration is led by the overarching theme of ‘Better City Better Life’.
More than half of the world’s population (55%) currently live in towns and cities. In some of the most high-income countries - in Western Europe, the Americas, Australia, Japan and the Middle East - that figure is around 80% of the population. While in many lower income countries, the majority of people live in rural areas still, that is changing rapidly. By 2050, it’s expected that nearly 7 out of 10 people in the global population will live in cities.
This year, the highlighted theme is that of ‘Valuing our communities and cities’. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the remarkable contributions that people and communities have made to their towns and cities. For many, the help and support that their communities have provided them with has been invaluable.
UN-Habitat Executive Director, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif said, “Local communities are the lifeblood of our cities and towns. And during the COVID-19 outbreak – their contribution has been extraordinary. As urban areas were hit by one of the most serious economic and social crises for generations, communities helped to keep people safe and healthy in countless ways.”
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks a particular goal to make cities ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’, something that the COVID-19 pandemic has only further emphasised. By working together as communities; through local governments, the public and private sector, healthcare and education, we can sustainably rebuild our cities.
We have seen this year the ability we have, as cities, countries and a global community, to adapt to huge changes to the ways in which we live our lives. As people and businesses work in partnership, we are able to better innovate and transform the way we design our communities and how they function. In doing so, our communities work better and bring economic, social, environmental and innovative value to our towns and cities.
Only by listening to our communities, and involving them in the development and regeneration of our cities and towns, are we able to create places that can truly thrive and succeed.
You can read more about Valuing our communities and cities in the World Cities Day report from UN HABITAT.