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World Cities Day 2018: Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities

The 31st of October is celebrated as World Cities Day. The aim is to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanisation, stimulate cooperation among countries and cities in embracing opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanisation, and contributing to sustainable urban development.

World Cities Day contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals and it is recognised by the New Urban Agenda as a priority platform for partners. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its dedicated goal on cities—SDG 11 to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable—puts sustainable urbanisation as one of the key priorities.

The general theme of World Cities Day is Better City, Better Life. Each year a different sub-theme is selected to either endorse successes of urbanisation or tackle specific challenges resulting from urbanisation.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities, the theme for World Cities Day 2018, is an appeal to action for all of us to rethink how cities may become better places to protect and enhance people’s lives, leaving no one behind. The global observance of this year’s World Cities Day is being held in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

With over half of the population living in urban areas and the numbers increasing daily, cities are facing unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges. This World Cities Day is engaging with local, regional and national governments, partners, communities of practice and residents to raise awareness about the importance of resilient cities and inspiring action for building resilience for more sustainable cities.

World Cities Day 2018 focuses on building urban resilience as defined by UN-Habitat: Urban Resilience is the measurable ability of any urban system, with its inhabitants, to maintain continuity through all shocks and stresses, while positively adapting and transforming toward sustainability. A Resilient City assesses, plans and acts to prepare and respond to hazards—natural and human-made, sudden and slow-onset, expected and unexpected—in order to protect and enhance people’s live, secure development gains, foster an environment for investment, and drive positive change.

Major challenges to resilience include economic, environmental, cultural, civic and disaster mitigation and recovery. In order to be considered resilient, a city must persistent, adaptable and inclusive, preparing itself for possible shocks, establishing alternatives and boosting its resourcefulness, while promoting equality, equity and fulfilment of human rights.

Governance and decentralisation was one of the highlights among such topics for 2018 as climate action, upgrading from informality, economic and social resilience and humanitarian urban crises. The analysis of decentralisation in terms of local governments’ responsibilities, planning and financial capacity is key for building city resilience. Local governments have a particular role to play in urban resilience as they are in charge of various processes related to the functioning of the city as well as the first line of response in any crisis situation. Local governments need to be empowered to competently deliver on these requirements, and good national-local level cooperation to build resilience in time of crisis is key.

By engaging all stakeholders in resilience efforts, cities can harness transformational change and improve the lives of their inhabitants.

To read the concept note of the World Cities Day 2018, please click here.

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