About the event
World Cities Day aims to raise awareness around the challenges of urbanisation and promote international cooperation in global efforts for sustainable urban development. The day is observed by various UN organisations, NGOs and communities all over the world.
According to the UN:
“Cities worldwide are increasingly suffering the effects of climate-related disasters, such as floods, droughts, sea level rise, heatwaves, landslides and storms. At least 130 port cities with over one million inhabitants are expected to be affected by coastal flooding and the one billion people in urban informal settlements are particularly at risk.
Creating more sustainable, climate-resilient societies involves addressing a range of issues including poverty reduction, ensuring basic services livelihoods, the provision of accessible, affordable and adequate housing, investing in infrastructure, upgrading informal settlements and managing ecosystems. Successful, well-governed cities greatly reduce climate-related risks for their populations.”
How to approach it
The central message you can impart on this day is that many of the best things about cities can be improved by solving many of the most pressing challenges they face. Through making cities more walkable, insulated, lower energy, greener, accessible and resilient the quality of life in them obviously improves. At the same time, solving one problem often massively improves another issue. For example, investing in public services and building affordable housing is likely to simultaneously reduce crime rates and poverty. Ultimately we can show here that a world which has effectively adapted to climate change and low-carbon use is a happier, healthier and better designed one too.
To illustrate this point you could engage your students in an imaginative exercise. Ask them to close their eyes and imagine they are in a city with all of the most unpleasant elements in it: it’s polluted, inaccessible, full of motorways, cramped and dangerous. Next, ask them to imagine a better city, one which is green, walkable and affordable. Invite your class to walk through both of them and see how they feel. Ask: what does the first city have in it? What about the second? You could then invite your students to compare these imaginary places to their experiences of cities in real life. Ask: what good things and what bad things do these real-life cities have? How can they be improved?
What do you think of when you picture a city? Does it include tall buildings, cars, motorways and noise? What if we built cities differently? We could have cycle paths, city farms and solar panels. What would this kind of city feel like?