Valuing Our Communities and Cities
At this critical juncture in human history, rethinking the way we plan, build, and manage our urban spaces is not an option but an imperative. Our work to realize this vision begins now.Joan Clos
Secretary-General, UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)
Urbanisation provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, access to services, opportunities, and engagement. It also brings diversity in urban scenarios. Often this is not the shape of urban development, in the cities, inequality and exclusion at rates more significant than the national average. Unplanned and rapid urbanisation has been the bane the humanity is living with. Promoting cooperation and address the challenges of urbanisation and contributing to sustainable urban development is essential. To bring awareness and discussion, in 2014 UN, designated 31st of October as World Cities Day, this year marks the seventh global celebration of the day.
More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and more than 80% of global GDP generated in cities. UN estimate expects the figure to go up to 68% by 2050, 35% of urbanisation happening in three countries, that is India, China and Nigeria. Cities are the agents of change and advancement. Urbanisation can contribute to sustainable growth if managed well by increasing productivity, allowing innovation and new ideas to emerge. People migrating to cities is an issue developing countries encounter. Such migration brings associated problems of time taken to get integrated with the culture of the urban world. The recent migrant crisis during COVID pandemic and the eagerness of the migrants to get back to the places of they came from led to many avoidable problems
Local communities must play an essential role in supporting governments efforts toward employment creation, delivery of essential services and reestablishment of regional value chains. Urban October was launched by UN-Habitat in 2014 to emphasise the world’s urban challenges and engage the international community towards the New Urban Agenda. Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11), which reflects the ambition to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable – underlying the relevance of UN-Habitat’s mission.
A city can be defined as a conditionally contiguous urban area. The UN uses three definitions of what constitutes a city. Cities may be defined as the cities proper, the extent of their urban area, or their metropolitan regions. In many countries, the metro area is a loosely defined term.
The largest city by population is Chongqing in China. The largest city by people using the metropolitan area definition is Tokyo in Japan. National Capital Area, Delhi with more than 29 million (2.9 crores) people is the second largest in the world. Six cites from India, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad are listed in the top 50 populated cities in the world.
The impact of COVID-19 has impacted the lives of people in urban areas across the world. Local governments and people have played a key role in minimising the spread of the pandemic and maintaining some economic activities. UN-Habitat’s latest World Cities Report reinforces the benefits of cities that engage all stakeholders and foster sustainable cities.
Policymakers and governments need to engage communities systematically and strategically in urban planning, implementation, and monitoring to co-create the cities of the future. Indian government embarked on the Smart City Initiative is in that direction. It was introduced to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life through local development with the use of technology. The proposed approach included retrofitting and/or redevelopment of cities and Greenfield projects.
For sustaining urban development, the world needs participatory, inclusive, and sustainable development.
Collectively, we can genuinely promote sustainable cities for all.
Toons: Reema and Anusha
Logs: M Sai Baba