Majority of the global population now living in cities and their numbers growing daily, which have made cities inclusive, sustainable, resilient and safe as currently observed, is critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs, a high level UN meeting has noted. The event was led by the UN Sustainable Development Group, UNSDG, last week at the High-level Political Forum, focused on how the cities of the world are accelerating progress towards the SDGs, as well as showcasing how SDGs’ implementation in cities can contribute to transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.
The chairperson of the meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General and UNSDG Chair, Amina Mohammed, revealed that “Cities are economic powerhouses with an estimated global GDP share of 88 per cent by 2025. “However, cities are also locus of complex and interconnected challenges, producing more than 50 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and using 80 per cent of the world’s energy. We need to get urbanisation right to achieve the 2030 Agenda,” she stated. The event provided a unique opportunity for member-states, city authorities and non-state actors to come together to showcase their own innovative work, and to illustrate how the UN system can support these efforts. Bahrain’s Housing Minister, Mr. Basim Bin Yacob AlHamer; the Mayor of Bangangté, Cameroon, Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtès, New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs, Ms. Penny Abeywardena, the President of United Cities and Local Governments, Mr. Parks Tau, and the Chair of the international women’s grassroots network Huairou Commission, Ms. Violet Shivutse, discussed how cities and local actors are championing the sustainable urbanisation agenda. UNDP Administrator and UNSDG Vice-Chair, Achim Steiner, highlighted inequality within cities on issues like income, health, and education but said cities had enormous potentials in addressing climate change where they were already leading by example. He called on the international community to unleash the power of cities to help solve global challenges. Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, told the meeting that cities are “in the front lines of nearly every global challenge we currently face, and they need to be at the centre of our strategy to solve them. Looking ahead requires new approaches – the “urban development of yesterday will not suffice,” she added.