World Cities Day 2021

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.

Event City and Country
Luxor, Egypt
Event Date
Media Resources
Press release: The New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) of Egypt’s Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities wins the Scroll of Honour 2021
Press release: UN-Habitat and Egypt to host Global Observance of World Cities Day 2021 in historic city of Luxor
Press release: Global Observance of World Cities Day 2021 in Egypt calls for action on climate change
Press release: UN-Habitat and Expo 2020 Dubai to highlight climate resilient cities at World Cities Day
Messages from the UN Secretary General and the Executive Director
The Secretary-General, António Guterres

Cities are hubs of innovation and human ingenuity — and potential centres for transformative action to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and build a zero-carbon, climate-resilient and socially just world. The theme of this year’s World Cities Day, ‘Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience’, comes at a time when cities must be more resilient than ever before. They have been epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic and are on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif

The World Cities Day this year, falls on the first day of the UN Climate Meeting in Glasgow, and we are all realising that the climate crisis is a threat to all. We can trust that countries around the world are going to honour the pledges, to slash greenhouse gas emissions and slow down global warming. We already know that even with huge cuts in our emissions, global warming will continue for many years to come.


World Cities Day 2021 Photo Gallery