Water Level Monitoring

World Cities Day

A picture of Chicago overlooking a beautiful green park

2021 – Climate Action, Climate Resilience

A picture of Chicago overlooking a beautiful green park
The world is urbanizing: 2009 was the first year in human history more people lived in cities than rurally.

The world is increasingly urban, both demographically and in terms of land use. To encourage discussion and care for cities, in 2013 the UN passed a resolution, promoting October 31 as “World Cities Day.” World Cities Day wraps up a month of events held under the banner “Urban October.” Both day and month offer events and platforms to promote curiosity and conversation about the increasing urbanization of humanity. This year, World Cities Day is being marked at an Expo in Luxor, Egypt.

“Better cities, better life.” The overall focus for 2021’s UN World Cities Day.

According to the UN, 56.2% of people were living in cities in 2020, a number expected to increase to 68% by 2050.

A graph showing the growth of urbanization from 5% in 1500 to 55% in 2016
Source: Our World in Data

Urban settlement uses 0.6 million square kilometers of land. Depending on what choices municipalities make, to limit or support sprawl in their areas, that number could grow to between 1.2-3 million square kilometers of the earth covered by cities by 2100.

This year, October 31 is focused on the role of cities in climate change, both adapting for resilience and minimizing carbon release.

Cities are working to quickly become carbon neutral. The most common target date is 2050. Many things that municipalities influence—like transit, transportation corridors, land-use, water, and waste—have a substantial impact on carbon and climate. The work cities do can be powerful in the fight against climate disaster.

Mitigation efforts, such as preparing infrastructure and citizens for substantial weather events, are another important focus of the event.

Strategies around both these issues are often new and innovative. Yet sharing approaches from around the planet, and rediscovering older ways of community living, provide actionable approaches as well.  The worldwide search is on for ways to create cities that are comfortable, economically vital, and environmentally healthy. World Cities Day offers a time and a platform to share both the challenges and successes.

Pre-register for World Cities Events online or in Luxor, or watch live on youtube starting 9:00am EET.

The World Cities Day logo featuring a watercolor with a mixture of buildings and people
Source: The United Nations

Some of the work cities need to do around climate resilience includes using technologies or systems that minimize dependence on fossil fuels. Smart cities initiatives, transit and active transport models, density over sprawl, urban farming, urban forests, water reclamation, and new approaches to preventing excess waste and managing waste systems are all important pieces in the climate change adaptation puzzle.

However, resilience is also about caring for populations. Energy sustainability is important as we move away from climate change. 130 port cities and their populations worldwide are especially vulnerable to weather catastrophe. Making sure populations are robust and resilient requires work not just in carbon strategy but also in public health, poverty reduction, and sustainable housing initiatives.

There are many different approaches, areas of expertise, and approaches to climate adaptation and climate change mitigation. Cities are incredibly important to making these changes happen, both as individual communities and in communication and network with other governmental bodies.

It’s all about making sustainable places that people want to be.

An in-fill urban garden between sidewalk and parking lot has old-style wooden gates and fences
An urban garden amid the trees and apartments in the Netherlands.