COVID-19 that is continuing to cause human tragedy, social upheaval and economic turmoil across the globe can be considered as a once-in-a-century ecological security crisis that creates an urgent need for an in-depth reflection on the relationship between human beings and nature. But striking a balance between the two will not be possible unless the root causes - rampant destruction of nature, increasing resources depletion, sprawling cities and human settlements, unabated greenhouse gases emissions, unsustainable consumption and production patterns – are rapidly halted.
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres emphasized in the latest UN Policy Brief: COVID-19 in an Urban World: “Now is the time to rethink and reshape the urban world. Now is the moment to adapt to the reality of this and future pandemics. Now is our chance to recover better, by building more resilient, inclusive and sustainable cities.”
The international community therefore must heed to the unprecedented wake-up call that COVID-19 has offered to take decisive action to halt destruction of nature and tackle the imminent threats that undermine the health of ecosystems and disrupt the global climate, through combining the post-pandemic recovery of people’s well-being and an aggressive transformation towards sustainability. Thus we shall be able to achieve our vision of a healthy planet upon which all life depends to survive and thrive.
The year 2020 has led the world into a decade of action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the UN calls for a networked and inclusive multilateralism which will not only allow the outpouring of global solidarity to combat Covid-19 crisis, but help overcome the challenges of our current era. 2020 also marks the 15th anniversary of Global Forum on Human Settlements which has been dedicating to make sustainable cities and human settlements for all.
With the COVID-19 being projected to become a “new normal”, human society will be reshaped. Cities remain as the key battleground to strive for economic growth and sustainable development. But on the pathways towards the future, the first and foremost agenda is to ensure that cities are safer, securer and healthier, that cities become increasingly resilient to pandemic, climate, and various ecological crises, and that cities are closely linked to rural areas and nature to enable interactions in a positive and synergistic way. In the process, Resilient Cities need to be put in a better position to protect and enhance people's lives, secure development gains, foster an investible environment, and drive positive change. Only by maintaining ecological integrity and reinforcing urban resilience can we foresee a future that is safe, inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable.
Against this background, the 15th Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2020) will be organized in a virtual format as an observance of Urban October on October 15-16, 2020, with the theme being “Post-Pandemic Recovery and Transformation: Resilient Cities, Healthy Planet”. The Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements Awards Ceremony 2020 will fall on the afternoon of October 16 (Central European Time).
Dignitaries from numerous countries, senior officials from UN and concerned international organizations, mayors of leading cities, leaders of multinational enterprises, and well-known experts and scholars will join the online thematic discussions. In the meantime, webcasting will be available to foster interactive dialogues with all stakeholders across the globe, and is expected to reach out to a much larger number of interested persons.
1. Draw lessons and accelerate transformation in recovery: the forum will call on the global community to draw lessons from the current pandemic crisis to make the much-needed transformation which is essential to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure health and prosperity for all.
2. Promote biodiversity conservation: the forum aims to provide a valuable global platform for high-level dialogue and sharing of innovative approaches, strategies, technologies and successful local experiences, to promote the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity, advocate nature-based solutions and resource recovery, facilitate harmony between built environment and nature, and guarantee ecological security.
3. Strengthen urban safety and resilience: the forum seeks to offer practical solutions to how cities should be planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed so as to support a stronger and greener recovery, building up cities’ adaptive capacity against all shocks and stresses, and enhance safety, resilience and sustainability in diverse urban systems.
4. Foster partnership towards SDGs: the forum is designed to strengthen capacity building, cultivate new type partnerships, foster urban innovation, accelerate effective actions, and to drive progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and a better future.
Scope and Key Issues
1. Preserving and sustainably managing biodiversity and guaranteeing ecological security
2. Integrated climate, hydrology and environment services for sustainable cities
3. Building urban resilience to climate change
4. Financing for resilient urban infrastructure
5. Smart, sustainable cities and communities
6. International Green Model City Initiative: inclusive, resilient, and smart cities
7. Strategies for fighting epidemics: adaptable buildings and resilient cities
8. Post-crisis healthy and anti-fragile cities
9. Blue economy and healthy ocean
10. Blockchain technology and smart urban governance
11. Energy-efficient and sustainable housing
12. Pursuing a resilient, inclusive, gender-equal and green economic recovery