an illustration of a sustainable city life
Photo:©Sadek Ahmed

When urban communities are engaged in policy and decision making, and empowered with financial resources, the results are more inclusive and durable. Let’s put our communities at the heart of the cities of the future."

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience

Cities worldwide are increasingly suffering the effects of climate-related disasters, such as floods, droughts, sea level rise, heatwaves, landslides and storms. At least 130 port cities with over one million inhabitants are expected to be affected by coastal flooding and the one billion people in urban informal settlements are particularly at risk.

Creating more sustainable, climate-resilient societies involves addressing a range of issues including poverty reduction, ensuring basic services livelihoods, the provision of accessible, affordable and adequate housing, investing in infrastructure, upgrading informal settlements and managing ecosystems. Successful, well-governed cities greatly reduce climate-related risks for their populations.

Read more about this year's World Cities Day general theme: Better City, Better life, and this year’s sub-theme: Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience.

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Events

World Cities Day will represent the culmination of the month-long celebration of Urban October, which this year promotes ambitious climate action in cities. Create your own event!

Background

The United Nations General Assembly designated 31 October as World Cities Day, by its resolution 68/239. The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities addressing challenges of urbanization and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.

Urbanization provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, including greater equality, access to services and new opportunities, and engagement and mobilization that reflects the diversity of cities, countries and the globe. Yet too often this is not the shape of urban development. Inequality and exclusion abound, often at rates greater than the national average, at the expense of sustainable development that delivers for all.

Urban October was launched by UN-Habitat in 2014 to emphasize the world’s urban challenges and engage the international community towards the New Urban Agenda.

Sustainable Development Goal 11, which formulates the ambition to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable - underlying the relevance of UN-Habitat’s mission. Inequalities in cities have grown since 1980. The world largest cities are also often the most unequal, and this year’s theme is embraced by the action and implementation of the New Urban Agenda, which is putting the topic of inclusive cities as one of the main pillars for the urban shift.

In October 2016, the HABITAT III Conference, held in Quito, adopted a new framework, which will set the world on a course towards sustainable urban development by rethinking how cities are planned, managed and inhabited. The New Urban Agenda will set the pace on how to deal with the challenges of urbanization in the next two decades, and is seen as an extension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed on by the 193 Member States of the UN in September 2015.

Cities should be encouraged to innovate and experiment, and also to learn from one another in order to hasten this transition, for instance through “twin town” initiatives or city networks. Moreover, the report says it will be necessary to replace a “competitive cities” governance approach to urban economies with a “well-grounded cities” approach that serves the interests of all citizens.

Until 2009, more people lived in rural than in urban areas. Today, around 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in towns and cities, with the level of urbanisation projected to reach almost 70 per cent by 2050. Much of the growth in urban populations will take place in Asia and Africa, especially in China, India and Nigeria where the fertility rates remain high.

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International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.