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Urban October 2019

Urban October 2019 celebrated around the world

The 2019 Urban October, which ran from World Habitat Day on the first Monday of the month to World Cities Day on 31 October, featured a dynamic range of events raising awareness about sustainable urbanization. The World Habitat Day 2019 theme of Frontier technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth was noisily illustrated at the Global Observance in Mexico City by a children’s orchestra playing instruments made from buckets and plastic bottles.

Dignitaries, experts, academics and young people packed the Anthropology Museum auditorium to hear UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, warning that the world’s waste management challenges require urgent action.

Mexico’s Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Martha Delgado, President of the first UN-Habitat Assembly, said that the Government was committed to making urbanization an ally of sustainable development

The Government of Cameroon, with UN-Habitat’s support, designated a Habitat Week on waste. Activities included a clean up competition in Yaoundé for roads, drainage ditches and rivers

“I hope that this campaign lasts long so that we can improve our environment,” said local resident, Wilfred Zebaze.

“We will prepare a roadmap for a national programme on sustainable waste management, not only to manage waste, but to transform it to wealth,” said Celestine Ketcha Courtes, Cameroon’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development

Kenya celebrated World Habitat Day in Nakuru County at a factory turning human waste and sludge into cooking fuel briquettes

The Chief Guest, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, James Macharia called on counties to embrace innovative technologies. The Permanent Representative to UN-Habitat, Ambassador Njambi Kinyungu, said forward thinking on waste can positively impact sustainable livelihoods. The dignitaries planted trees at a landfill which is being turned into a park

The Ecocity World Summit in Vancouver, Canada on World Habitat Day, reflected on the city’s history of supporting UN-Habitat, as host of the Agency’s founding conference, Habitat 1 in 1976 and the Third Session of the World Urban Forum in 2006.

In Bangkok, Thailand, the Four Regions Slum Network mobilized hundreds of representatives from informal settlements calling for action on homelessness and land rights.

Meanwhile in Spain, mayors and city representatives discussed waste management at an event co-organized by UN-Habitat and the International Solid Waste Association at the Association’s World Congress. The Mayor of Nova Odessa, São Paulo, Benjamin Bill Vieira da Souza spoke of growing up on a dumpsite, picking waste and surviving on food waste.

At the end of October, this year’s World Cities Day theme was Changing the world: Innovations and a better life for future generations with the Global Observance being held for the first time in Russia and attracting over 650 participants from a record number of countries.

At the opening in of the Global Observance in Ekaterinburg, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, said innovation was often born in cities

“Imaginative ideas allow us to be more efficient and effective in the way we manage our resources, we move people and goods, deliver our services and construct our infrastructure and buildings,” she said.

Russia’s Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities, Vladimir Yakushev called for people to unite their efforts and creativity to transform cities while the Mayor of Ekaterinburg, Aleksandr Vysokinskiy, said technology “is a tool not a target, and the future of a city depends on its population.”

China’s Vice Minister of Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MoHURD), Jiang Wanrong, said that good city planning and the interests of people should be the top priority to make cities inclusive.

The 2019 edition of the Shanghai Manual was launched and there were live links to celebrations in Spain, Moscow region and UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters

UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Profiling Programme led the annual Fiesta de la Ciencia (Science Festival) in Barcelona with activities organized by over 150 organizations on different scientific and technological areas for children.

The 2019 China Observance of World Cities Day was held in Tangshan City, the first Chinese city to win the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour. It was co-organized by MoHURD, the Government of Hebei Province and UN-Habitat. More than 400 participants from over 30 Chinese cities and provinces and around 20 countries took part.

The Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Mr. Victor Kisob spoke about China’s work on improving people's livelihoods. The Vice Minister of MoHURD, Ni Hong, said innovation was an important solution to the challenges of urbanization.

UN-Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director also made opening remarks at the 2019 Global Cities Forum and World Cities Day Shanghai Observance. In Islamabad, Pakistan, Federal Minister and Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, spoke at the event where Argentina Park was declared a Model Park.

Shortly after Cuba’s capital Havana turned 500 years old, the city marked World Cities Day in an event organized by the Institute of Physical Planning and the National Union of Architects and Construction Engineers of Cuba.

In Toronto, Canada, UN-Habitat, international city leaders and the Urban Economy Forum Association hosted the inaugural Urban Economy Forum, the first global platform on urban economy and finance, with participants from over 20 countries

The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau’s statement said the “event brings together community leaders and financial stakeholders to discuss ways in which to build a sustainable urban economy

The second day was opened by Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Ontario who formerly headed UN-Habitat. World Cities Day was celebrated with three events in Nairobi, Kenya. The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance organized more than 20 youth-led organizations for a Dialogue on Supporting youth to develop innovative solutions to the Urban Challenges

Another event focused on inclusive urban mobility, while the third at Nairobi University was on sustainable planning for social change in informal settlements.

UN-Habitat and the Municipal Council, launched Kuwait’s first national cam-paign for greening open spaces which aims to plant 100,000 trees to create a green belt protecting cities from dust storms, desertification, and sand en-croachment

Tunisia celebrated World Cities Day and the Arab and World Habitat Day with a one day seminar on Urban Planning and Housing opened by the Minister of Equipment, Housing and Territorial Planning.

The rest of Urban October included a huge variety of exciting events which included some of the following

UN-Habitat Ethiopia with the Urban Center, the Association of Ethiopian Architects and the Ethiopia Urban Planners Association organized a weekly Urban Dialogue and a radio debate on various themes and two Urban Cinema sessions were held

The second year of the Urban Circuit (Circuito Urbano in Portuguese), created by UN-Habitat included 154 events in 61 cities and 23 states looking at how innovation can enhance urban services and policies

In the USA, UN Habitat was involved in or promoted 30 events celebrating Urban October, which included panel discussions, exhibitions, film festivals, a tour of New York City’s subway and an Urban Ecology Boat Tour. UN-Habitat co-led the Global Symposium on Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods (Chicago) and helped organize an exhibition from the ‘Resilient Homes Design Challenge’ at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

UN-Habitat held the 10th Environmental Technology Expert Group Meeting on “Plastic Waste and Marine waste ” in Fukuoka Japan while in Thailand UN-Habitat joined celebrations with the National Housing Authority, under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security of the Royal Thai Government

Two Urban Conversations Over Coffee (Kapihan at Usapang Urban) dialogues on urban issues were held in the Philippines. And an online campaign called the Mayors' Urban Challenge was launched tasking Philippine mayors to capture on video a sustainable urban practice or initiative.

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