THE book “World Cities Day & Expo 2010 Shanghai” has recently been published in Chinese, English and French by the Shanghai government’s Information Office. It introduces the first annual World Cities Day, which is on October 31.
The day is designed to focus on sustainable development of cities. Key ideas include how technical innovation, effective management in densely populated cities and reducing energy consumption can lead to orderly growth, the book states.
“Leading Urban Transformation” is the theme of this year’s inaugural World Cities Day.
According to UN statistics, more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities. It is estimated nearly 60 percent of the world’s population, or about 5 billion people, will be urban residents by 2030. Sustainable development of cities has thus become one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century.
Through the establishment of World Cities Day, the UN can establish a consultative mechanism to deal with urban problems from a global scope, strengthen political ties between major city governments in the process of urbanization and integrate civil groups and organizations. The UN believes this can help the world better face resources crises and environmental degradation.
In the information age, the flow of capital, skilled labor and talents is freer with cities as the nodes rather than nations. At the same time, city management mechanisms in developed countries are under greater pressure in face of frequent financial crises, abrupt climate change and cultural conflicts.
Sustainable development in the era of globalization cannot be achieved by one city alone. Global solutions are thus necessary, therefore, it is “the right time to observe and raise awareness of World Cities Day,” the book states.
The idea of international day dates back to October 31, 2010, when a declaration was issued on the closing day of World Expo Shanghai 2010. It was proposed a day be designated to recall, renew and advance ideas and practices for sustainable urbanization displayed at the Shanghai Expo.
With joint efforts of the Chinese government and other parties, the UN General Assembly approved World Cities Day last year.
The move is also seen as an important contribution by China in promoting sustainable urban development around the world.
There is no panacea for the woes cities face today. Different cities may need different remedies. Sharing and exchanging experiences with one another can illuminate the road ahead.
China has embarked on the fastest and biggest urbanization drive in human history. The central government wants to take the opportunities to provide financial support and human assistance into building a platform between developing and developed countries, and to share its experiences in this regard with the rest of the world while learning from others. It hopes to push forward cooperation among countries in sustainable urban development. World Cities Day, observers say, can be a marker on the road to people-oriented and quality urbanization.