UN Calls For Global Action To Transform Crowded Cities

UN Calls For Global Action To Transform Crowded Cities

UN Calls For Global Action To Transform Crowded Cities

The United Nations has called for global action to turn overcrowded cities into engines of sustainable development and innovation.

Marking World Cities Day [1] on October 31 2023, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the vital role cities must play in sustainable development.

“World Cities Day is a time to consider the pivotal role cities play in sustainable development,” said Guterres, emphasising the need for a global call to action.

Cities, he noted, are not only engines of economic growth but are also at the centre of the world’s most pressing challenges. From climate change to social inequality, densely populated cities find themselves battling with a multitude of complex issues.

1.1 billion people living in urban slums

Urban living has already been embraced by more than half of the world’s human population and, according to the UN Habitat World Cities Report 2022, projections suggest that nearly 70 per cent of people will live in cities by 2050.

Approximately 1.1 billion people currently live in slums and informal settlements within urban areas, entrenching poverty and limiting opportunities. And whilst cities are responsible for generating more than 80 percent of global GDP, they can also become inequality traps, challenged by overcrowding, pollution, insufficient infrastructure and social injustice.

1.1 billion urban residents are currently living in slums
Source: The UN Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023

This year’s theme for World Cities Day is ‘Financing Sustainable Urban Development’, prompting Secretary-General Guterres to express his concerns about the significant challenges faced by local authorities as cities become increasingly more overpopulated.

“Local authorities are struggling with limited support and resources,” Antonio Guterres stated. “The demand for critical infrastructure, affordable housing, efficient transport, and essential social services continues to grow exponentially.”

[1] October 31 2023 was designated as World Cities Day by The United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 68/239.

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