Changing the World: Innovations and Better Life for Future Generations, is the theme of this year’s celebration of World Cities Day and the subject of a conference that UNESCO will host at its Headquarters in Paris on 31 October (9am to 6.30pm).
The conference will bring together representatives of some 24 municipalities from all parts of the globe for four panel discussions covering issues including: sustainability and climate action, urban regeneration and social inclusion, as well as technological innovation (see programme).
Experts and policy-makers will have an opportunity to share information about the innovative approaches forward-looking municipalities have adopted in every region to tackle the challenges facing cities, which currently occupy just 3% of the Earth’s surface but account for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions.
Thematic discussions and audio-visual presentations during the conference will highlight innovative practices pioneered by UNESCO and its urban partners in the fields of cultural heritage preservation and urban regeneration, education and lifelong learning, resilience to disasters and natural resources management, culture and creativity, and advances in information and communication technologies, as well as the fight against discrimination.
For World Cities Day 2019, UNESCO is partnering with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN-Habitat and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to amplify the UN’s concerted action for cities alongside city planners and other urban players. The partnership also aims to support a comprehensive UN approach to working with cities in the framework of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
UNESCO has been conducting research and supporting urban programmes for many years, adding a multidisciplinary and international perspective to the debate on urban development. The Organization is also engaged with urban community-centred programmes that create positive change on the ground.
The UN proclaimed World Cities Day as a call for states, municipalities and urban dwellers to work together for transformative change, which is all the more necessary as rapid urban expansion all too often comes with a rise in poverty and unemployment, as well as unsustainable resource management.
Improving life in cities, which are currently estimated to be growing at the rate of 200,000 new inhabitants per day, is also the objective of UNESCO-Netexplo’s Smart Cities Awards for 2020, which will be announced during the conference (5.30pm), ahead of the award ceremony, scheduled for next March 2020.
World days are occasions to raise awareness on issues of concern, to mobilize political engagement and resources to address global challenges, and to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity.