Urban October ended with worldwide celebrations of World Cities Day on 31 October. The theme for World Cities Day 2021 was Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience and coincided with the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference COP 26.
More than 50 events took place to mark World Cities Day including in China, Mexico, India, USA, Benin, Netherlands, Brazil, Kenya, Ecuador, Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya and Chile.
The main Global Observance was co-hosted by UN-Habitat and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and took place in Luxor. It was held in a hybrid format and was attended by the Egyptian Prime Minister, the Minister of Local Development and the Governor of Luxor, There were speeches, messages and videos from the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, the Director General of the World Health Organization, the President of the UN-Habitat Assembly, the Goodwill Ambassador for Arab States, China’s Minister for Housing and Urban Rural Development, the Shanghai Mayor, the Mayor of the Russian city of Ekaterinburg which is a former World Cities Day, the President of the United Cities and Local Governments network and the UN Secretary-General’s youth envoy and his Envoy on Road Safety. There was a live link to the World Cities Day event at Expo2020Dubai. Some 1,500 people joined in person or online.
The opening ceremony was followed by roundtable discussions on Climate Adaptation for the Most Vulnerable People; Innovate4Cities Conference Outcome; Towards a Resilient and Green Future: COVID-19 Recovery in Partnership; and Climate Change in the Arab Region - Challenges and Opportunities. The previous day saw the Egyptian observance and a field trip to UN-Habitat’s River Bank Filtration technology.
WHO highlighted that COVID-19 exacerbated existing social injustices and vulnerabilities, especially in cities. Combined challenges such as inadequate housing and transport, poor sanitation and waste management make cities epicentres of the noncommunicable diseases epidemic, but at the same time, cities react rapidly and innovatively to address the challenges raised by COVID-19. Governments should integrate health, emergency preparedness, equity, and nature considerations into urban and regional planning policies and interventions, including in economic impact and cost-benefit assessments.
World Cities Day was established in 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/68/239. The first World Cities Day was held in October 2014. A legacy of Expo 2010 Shanghai China, World Cities Day aims to promote the international community's interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world. The observance day ties in with Sustainable Development Goal 11, to make cities "inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".
The general theme of World Cities Day is Better City, Better Life, while each year a different sub-theme and a location for its global observance is selected, to either promote successes of urbanization, or address specific challenges resulting from urbanization.