Approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide reside in slums and informal settlements within urban areas, which often perpetuate poverty and restrict opportunities for growth. Cities and their surroundings act as dynamic hubs for innovation, culture, and economic prospects, attracting both talent and investments.
Urban living has already been embraced by over half of the global population, and projections from UN Habitat suggest that by 2050, nearly 70 percent of people will call cities their home. While cities contribute to more than 80 percent of the global GDP, foster vibrant networks of entrepreneurship and business expansion, and offer opportunities for personal development, they can also become breeding grounds for inequality, marked by issues such as overcrowding, pollution, inadequate infrastructure, and social disparities.
ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES
On the occasion of World Cities Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the critical role cities play in sustainable development as catalysts for economic growth and innovation. He emphasized the need to address the challenges faced by local authorities, who often grapple with limited support and resources while the demand for critical infrastructure, affordable housing, efficient transportation, and essential social services continues to surge.
The theme for this year’s World Cities Day, “Financing Sustainable Urban Development,” serves as a call to action. It calls upon governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to collaborate and mobilize financial resources to build resilient, sustainable cities. The UN chief advocated for equitable financing solutions at the global level, highlighting the importance of innovative funding sources to bolster local financing strategies that are climate-friendly, inclusive, and equitable.
The establishment of the Advisory Group on Local and Regional Governments by the Secretary-General aims to enhance coordination and amplify the voices of cities and regions as they work towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and preparing for the Summit of the Future next year.
SUSTAINABLE URBAN FUTURE FOR ALL
World Cities Day 2023 was hosted by the Municipality of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Türkiye, under the theme “Financing sustainable urban future for all.” Over 1,000 participants from 221 countries registered for the event, either in person or online, according to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif highlighted that progress toward achieving sustainable and just development, along with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), had encountered obstacles. She emphasized that with half of the world’s population now residing in urban areas, embracing this trend and adapting cities to harness their resources and talents is essential to ensure that no one, and no place, is left behind.