7 October 2019
ISOCARP, the International Society of City and Regional Planners, a global network of urban and territorial planners, is calling upon its individual and institutional members to attend and engage in Urban October activities leading up to World Cities Day on 31 October.
Each October, UN-Habitat and partners organise a month of activities, events and discussions on urban sustainability. Urban October starts today 7 October with World Habitat Day and ends on World Cities Day on 31 October. National, regional and local government, NGOs, communities and individuals are encouraged to organise events to promote sustainable urbanisation. In 2018, 320 worldwide events were held in 61 countries.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated the 31st of October as World Cities Day, by its resolution 68/239. The Day is expected to greatly promote the international community’s interest in global urbanisation, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanisation, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.
The general theme of World Cities Day is Better City, Better Life, while each year a different sub-theme is selected, to either promote successes of urbanisation, or address specific challenges resulting from urbanisation. This year, the United Nations has selected the theme “Changing the world: innovations and better life for future generations” to discuss how urbanisation can be used to achieve sustainable development. It aims to promote the international community’s interest in implementing the New Urban Agenda globally and in enhancing cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanisation in cities. Cities have always been drivers and incubators of innovation, industry, technology, entrepreneurship, and creativity; creating prosperity, enhancing social development and providing employment. Cities will have to continue to drive innovation in ground-breaking ways to achieve a lasting impact in communities and to ensure that “no one and no place” is left behind. At the same time, innovation can contribute to inequality and needs to be accompanied by appropriate economic and social regulatory policies. Youth and women need the opportunity to participate and contribute more fully to innovation in cities.
The new digital economy, sometimes called ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ is built on data, reduced transaction costs and sharing platforms and already has a profound effect in many cities. Innovations in mobility, including autonomous transport, electric vehicles and drones will require fundamentally different approaches to urban planning. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual, augmented and mixed reality and the internet of things present efficiency and communications opportunities requiring new governance frameworks. This rapid rate of innovation also puts pressure on urban policymakers and managers to strengthen their capacity when it comes to understanding, procuring and regulating new technologies.
The main goals of World Cities Day 2019 are to:
1) Increase awareness of how digital innovations can be used for urban service delivery to enhance the quality of life and improve the urban environment;
2) Show new frontier technologies that can create more inclusive cities;
3) Present opportunities for renewable energy generation in cities;
4) Explore how frontier technologies can promote social inclusion in cities.
The main event will be hosted by the City of Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation and is jointly organised by UN-Habitat and the City of Ekaterinburg. The Global Observance 2019 is in Mexico City and the theme is “Technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth”, with subtopics including:
1) Integrated waste management in a circular economy;
2) Supporting data collection for Waste Wise Cities;
3) Monitoring of the waste value chain;
4) Promoting waste management contribution to SDGs;
5) Highlighting role of frontier technologies.
ISOCARP wholeheartedly endorses the aims and events of Urban October. During its 55th World ‘Beyond the Metropolis’ Congress in Jakarta from 9-13 September 2019, ISOCARP concluded a successful gathering of more than 700 urban planners from 65 different countries with a legacy of more than 600 papers and a Jakarta Declaration with 12 Recommendations to governments, civil society, business community and planning professionals, including “We embrace new technologies which support and augment human intelligence and capabilities, including solutions which improve liveability, equity and transparency.”
ISOCARP promotes urban and territorial planning professionals as key actors to support both decision-makers and civil society to build the essential frameworks and unlock collective territorial intelligence to make cities affordable, inclusive, resilient, sustainable, safe and supported by smart technologies for intelligent communities.