Urban October 2022: 31 Days to Promote a Sustainable Urban Future
Urban October is an initiative that was born with the aim of raising awareness, promoting participation, generating knowledge, and engaging the international community in creating a better urban future. Each year, UN-Habitat and its partners organize a month of activities, events, and debates around urban sustainability.
Urban October is an opportunity to bring together people from all over the world, discussing the challenges and opportunities created by the rapid change in our cities and towns, where, by the way, more than half of the population lives, and this number is growing every day.
National and local governments, universities, non-governmental organizations, communities, and other stakeholders in sustainable urbanization are therefore invited to hold or participate in activities, events, and discussions within this framework.
Urban October starts with World Habitat Day on the first Monday of October and ends with World Cities Day on 31 October. However, the event’s activities are not limited to these specific days, but take place throughout the month, around the world, in different cities that host both celebrations every year.
World Habitat Day includes a global celebration, held in a different country each year, with keynote speakers and panel discussions focusing on a specific theme. The day was first celebrated in 1986 in Nairobi, Kenya, with the theme “Housing is my right”. In 2022, the theme is “Closing the Gap. Leaving no one and nowhere behind”, and will look at the issue of growing inequality and challenges in cities and human settlements.
The pandemic and recent conflicts have had a negative impact on the fight against poverty, increasing the numbers of people in a state of vulnerability, including those who would have been lifted out of poverty had the circumstances been different and also those who have fallen into poverty as a result. According to UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report, the number of people affected in 2020 was between 119 and 124 thousand, and in 2021 the figures increased to between 143 and 163 thousand. The fight against urban poverty and inequality is an urgent global priority.
UN-Habitat believes that cities and local governments have a central role to play in this struggle. They must generate responses to crises and emergencies, as well as a plan for an inclusive, resilient, and green future. Urban areas must be prepared for future disasters, and the journey begins in cities. Local actions and implementation of the SDGs are therefore considered extremely important.
The idea is to bring together representatives of various local governments, from mega-cities to small and medium-sized cities, to discuss their current challenges and ways to address growing inequalities and to understand how to bridge the gap between rural and urban areas, as well as between different neighborhoods within cities, with the idea of fostering multilevel governance at the horizontal level between governments, civil society, and communities.
As mentioned above, Urban October ends on the 31st of October with World Cities Day, which, like World Habitat Day, takes place every year with different celebrations in different cities, focusing on a specific theme.
This year, the city chosen was Shanghai, China, under the theme “Act local to be global”. The aim is to bring together different partners and stakeholders to share their experiences and approaches to local action, highlighting what has worked and what is needed to empower local and regional governments to create greener, more equitable and sustainable cities.
UN-Habitat has been at the forefront of localization since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and works by providing technical expertise to partners around the world, leading the development of cutting-edge research, training local and regional governments on SDG localization, and strengthening the voice of local governments and actors within key international UN forums on the SDGs.
It aims to advance the technical and political debate on SDG localization as a comprehensive roadmap for improving inclusive human settlements and organize political inputs to implement global recommendations in local contexts; share and listen to the best examples of participatory and inclusive processes related to SDG localization that can be extrapolated and adapted to different contexts; and define concrete practical learning and recommendations on how to effectively implement the SDGs to reduce inequalities within cities and across territories.
This is intended to promote the acceleration of SDG implementation in cities and territories, among stakeholders and interest groups, and implement recommendations to foster inclusive policies and raise the voices of those furthest behind.
Check out more information at UN-Habitat.