10 April 2019

UN “Day of Cities” showcases cities’ critical role in achieving global goals

ICLEI Europe and several ICLEI Members participated in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)’s “Day of Cities” in Geneva (Switzerland) on 8 April 2019, which was held in advance of the 68th session of the Commission on 9-10 April. The 68th session provided a forum to discuss issues related to economic integration and cooperation among countries in the UNECE region.

The theme of the 68th session of the Commission was ‘Smart sustainable cities: drivers for sustainable development’, focusing on national priorities and good practices related to sustainable cities.

The one-day “Day of Cities” conference took place before the session to bring in the city perspective, convening mayors, deputy mayors, academics, and civil society organisations who discussed topics including urban resilience in the face of climate change, services for vulnerable populations, smart tools, urban mobility, and policy instruments to improve urban services.

The event put mayors at the forefront, with an emphasis on the role of cities in realising global targets like the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and Europe’s long term strategy on greenhouse gas emission reduction. Cities, the event heard, are uniquely able to craft solutions that work for people. As a result, they can transform global goals into impactful local action.

The conference saw presentations from a number of ICLEI Member cities, including: Bonn (Germany), Burgas (Bulgaria), Cascais (Portugal), Glasgow (United Kingdom), Helsingborg (Sweden), Oslo (Norway), Tampere (Finland), and Tirana (Albania).

Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn and President of ICLEI presented ICLEI’s five pathways towards sustainable urban development, while Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana, reminded participants that “there are no cities without people, so we must design cities for people.”

ICLEI also presented its work, including the 2019 Transformative Action Award and the Basque Declaration, in the conference’s exhibition area.

The discussions held during the "Day of Cities" helped to shape the debate during the 68th session of the Commission. Wolfgang Teubner, Regional Director of ICLEI Europe, addressed delegates at the session, outlining the challenges and opportunities local governments face in working towards the 2030 agenda.

For more information about the Day of Cities, visit the event website.

To continue the conversation around transforming global climate goals into local action, be sure to save the date for the 9th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns, taking place in Mannheim (Germany) from 30 September - 2 October 2020.