Message from Judith Karl, UNCDF Executive Secretary, on the World Cities Day 2015

  • October 31, 2015

  • New York, USA

This year, the theme for the World Cities Day, “Designed to live together”, reminds us of the importance of making cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable places for everyone.

Today, cities generate over 80 per cent of global GDP. By 2050, two-thirds of the global population will live in urban areas.

Continuing population growth and urbanization are projected to add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa.

Responsibility for meeting the enormous demand for infrastructure and services in developing countries increasingly has shifted from national to sub-national governments. Many of the Sustainable Development Goals can only be achieved at local levels with the real involvement of local governments and stakeholders. While some bigger cities in Least Developed Countries may be able to cope with these pressures, many secondary cities and per-urban areas lack the financial resources and capacities to fulfill their mandates and responsibilities effectively.

The very real challenge of the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to get resources flowing to these underserved localities in a way that retains value within local economies and empowers local authorities to meet the growing demands they face for clean energy, efficient public transportation, jobs for young people, climate-resilient infrastructure, and basic services.

This is why UNCDF develops and tests out financial models which mobilize and recycle domestic resources to meet local needs and which raise investor confidence in these local economies -- so that they can be centres of growth, generating jobs and tax revenue which can in turn be used to improve services and meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Supporting inclusive growth in secondary cities, towns, and rural areas matters now more than ever. On this World Cities Day, as we reflect on how cities bring so many of us together to live and work, UNCDF recommits to using its capital mandate to meet the opportunities and address the challenges of urbanization, and to contribute to sustainable urban development in the Least Developed Countries.