Cities

More than one half of the world population lives in cities, and every country of the world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Urbanization—the gradual shift in residence of the human population from rural to urban areas—combined with overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050. Close to 90% of this increase will take place in Asia and Africa, according to the United Nations. This trend is changing the landscape of human settlement, with significant implications for living conditions, the environment, and development.

As the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development depends increasingly on the successful management of urban growth. Many countries face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including housing, transportation, energy systems, and other infrastructure (e.g., water, sanitation, electricity, roads), as well as employment and basic services such as education and health care. Integrated policies to improve the lives of both urban and rural dwellers are needed, while strengthening the linkages between urban and rural areas, building on their existing economic, social, and environmental ties.

Events and Articles

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Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Mayors Mechanism Networking Meeting: Enabling Local Solutions for Inclusive COVID-19 Response and Recovery

The session on “Enabling local solutions for inclusive COVID-19 response and recovery” was part of the 13th Summit of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). The GFMD convened under the central theme, “The Future of Human Mobility: Innovative Partnerships for Sustainable Development.” Hosted by the GFMD Mayors Mechanism, the session on enabling local solutions discussed local-to-national partnerships for migration policy, as well as identify priorities for joint action, barriers to success, and solutions for greater collaboration on migration policymaking going forward during the COVID-19 era. Session speakers will brought to the table their expertise with response and recovery efforts, with the aim of working so migration becomes “a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world” (Art. 8 of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration). The Mayors Mechanism was established in 2018. Co-steered by United Cities and Local Governments, the Mayors Migration Council and the International Organization for Migration, it aims to include local and regional authorities within the GFMD process, bringing their voices and expertise into State-led deliberations, and intensifying the dialogue between different levels of government and different stakeholder groups. Created in 2007, the GFMD is a government-led, informal and non-binding process, which helps shape the global debate on migration and development. It is not formally part of the UN system, although it coordinates with it in a number of ways. For example, the GFMD provides a flexible, multi-stakeholder space where national governments, in formal consultation with local and regional governments, civil society, the private sector, the UN system, and other relevant stakeholders, can discuss multi-dimensional aspects, opportunities and challenges related to migration, development, and the link between these two areas. The GFMD was instrumental in ensuring the inclusion of migration in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and paved the way for recent global political agreements on migration, including the 2017 New York Declaration and the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The GFMD is supported by a Steering Group of 28 member countries and is organized under a rotating State Chairmanship, with the United Arab Emirates serving as current Chair. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place online on 22 January from 16:00 – 18:00 CET. IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin Meeting Coverage, produced digital coverage and a summary report of the event which is available in HTML and PDF format.
Event 22 January 2021

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Council 2020: The Role of the International Municipal and Regional Movement in COVID Times

The theme of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Council 2020 is “The role of the International Municipal and Regional Movement in COVID times.” An Executive Bureau meeting on Thursday, 12 November 2020 will feature a High-Level Policy Dialogue on Ecological Transition in the Context of Post-COVID. The dialogue is part of the programme marked by the one-year anniversary of the Presidency and of the Durban Declaration, which guides the work of the World Organization of UCLG. The high-level policy dialogue will discuss: global policy generation processes and their adaptation to the post-COVID world; linkages between democratic processes and the needs of the ecological transition; and international policymaking processes, their involvement with each other, and possible synergies. A policy debate will focus on addressing inequalities, which is critical in the post-COVID era. A business session of the Executive Bureau will also take place. On Friday, 13 November, the World Council will host a business session and a policy debate. The business session will address, among others: the 2021 work plan; composition and agenda of policy councils for 2021; the report of the Financial Management Committee; the Rome Charter on Cultural Rights; and the #CitiesAreListening Experience: Towards a Global Pact with Communities. The policy debate, titled “Leading the Way to Recovery: Toward a New Pact for the Future,” will consider what recovery means and what its needs are in the context of creating a “better normal.” It will also define key priorities in this context. UCLG Committees and Institutional Committees will also convene. The UCLG is a global organization of cities and local governments and their associations that represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage. It also provides a platform to advance dialogue, cooperation and knowledge-sharing to uplift and empower communities at the local level. The UCLG World Council 2020 will take place virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from 11-13 November 2020 and is being hosted by the city of Guangzhou, China. IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin Meeting Coverage, will provide a digital update and a summary report of the UCLG Executive Bureau and UCLG World Council on 12 and 13 November.
Event 12 November 2020 - 13 November 2020

UN75 and Beyond: Inclusive Multilateralism and Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) as a Tool

The theme of this meeting, organized by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, is “UN75 and beyond: Inclusive Multilateralism and Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) as a Tool.” This virtual meeting will, on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary on 24 October, provide space for a dialogue among urban leaders and UN officials to explore the innovative options the urban world offers to deliver on inclusive multilateralism towards 2030, with a focus on VLRs as an innovative tool. Presentations will focus on: UN75 and inclusive multilateralism; the City of Bonn joining the VLR movement; and the German experience of inclusive multilateralism. Since 2018, with the first global review of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and with the momentum created by the New York City VLF Declaration, a growing number of local and regional governments are preparing their VLRs and submitting them to the UN. The process is further supported by the release of the VLR Guidelines by UN-Habitat and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in 2020. Also In July 2020, the UN Secretary-General released his COVID-19 in Urban World policy brief, which focuses on tackling inequalities, strengthening capacities, and pursuing a green recovery. The VLR preparation is even more important in light of the launch of the Decade of Action to deliver on the SDGs, with local action constituting one of the three pillars. IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, will provide web coverage and a summary report of UN75 and Beyond.
Event 23 October 2020

Reactions of Local and Regional Governments to UN75 Report

This event will discuss the findings of the Visioning Report UN 75: the Role of Local and Regional Governments in the Future Global Governance of the International System and how best to take them forward at the local, regional and global levels. The report was drafted by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments on behalf of the constituency, as part of the global consultation organized by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the occasion of the UN’s 75th Anniversary. The report’s findings, which include priorities for “recovering better” from COVID-19 and current priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals, will be presented by the UN Under Secretary-General and Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary. UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif will present the UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on COVID-19 in an Urban World. The event will elaborate on immediate priorities for recovery from COVID-19, namely improved access to basic services — healthcare, safe water, sanitation and education — followed by greater international solidarity and increased support to those most affected. This includes tackling inequalities and rebuilding a more inclusive economy. The event will also address long-term priorities, including issues related to the climate crisis and destruction of the natural environment. Other priorities for the discussion include ensuring greater respect for human rights, settling conflicts, tackling poverty and reducing corruption. A final session will address international cooperation and the UN. It will make proposals for a renewed multilateralism, which is inclusive and networked, as well as an interurban system that emphasizes cities and regions as key to developing the next generation of multilateralism. This event, organized by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), will take place virtually on 8 October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, will provide web coverage and a summary report of the Reactions of Local and Regional Governments to UN75 Report.
Event 8 October 2020

Forum of Mayors 2020

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is convening the Forum of Mayors 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. The event is part of the UNECE Sustainable Cities Week. The Forum of Mayors, the first of its kind, builds upon the successful organization by UNECE of the Day of Cities on 8 April 2019 in Geneva, which brought together mayors to share best practices and develop a vision for urban development. The Forum of Mayors convenes under the theme ‘City action for a resilient future: Strengthening local government preparedness and response to emergencies and the impact of disasters and climate change,’ and will bring together city leaders from all over the world to discuss up-to-date challenges for urban sustainability. The meeting will address the economic and financial aspects of local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as local solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Forum of Mayors will be held on 6 October 2020 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Sustainable Cities Week running from 5-9 October also includes a day devoted to SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), the 81st Session of the Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management, and an annual meeting on Sustainable Smart Cities.
Event 6 October 2020