World Cities Day 2022: History, Significance and Theme

World Cities Day is annually observed on 31st October. The aim of the day is to raise awareness about global urbanization and push for global cooperation in sustainable urban development. 

This event is organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in coordination with each year’s selected host city. This year in 2022 the host city for this event is Shanghai, China.

The day brings to light the inequalities within the biggest cities in the world and pushes for greater social inclusion, including equality and access to services and opportunities. This day also addresses the challenges faced due to urbanization and contributing to the sustainable urban development around the world. 

Event World Cities Day
Date October 31, 2022
Day Monday
Significance The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about global urbanization and to encourage global cooperation in sustainable urban development.
Observed by World wide


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World Cities Day History: 

Jericho and Çatalhöyük, dated to the eighth millennium BC, are among the earliest proto-cities known to archaeologists. However, the Mesopotamian city of Uruk from the mid fourth millennium BC (ancient Iraq) is considered by some to be the first true city, with its name attributed to the Uruk period. In the fourth and third millennium BC, complex civilizations flourished in the river valleys of Mesopotamia, India, China, and Egypt. Excavations in these areas have found the ruins of cities geared variously towards trade, politics, or religion. Among the early Old World cities, Mohenjo-daro of the Indus Valley civilization in ancient India present-day Pakistan, existing from about 2600 BC, was one of the largest, with a population of 50,000 or more and a sophisticated sanitation system.

In the remnants of the Roman Empire, cities of late antiquity gained independence but soon lost population and importance. The locus of power in the West shifted to Constantinople and to the ascendant Islamic civilization with its major cities Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba. From the 9th through the end of the 12th century, Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe, with a population approaching 1 million. The Ottoman Empire gradually gained control over many cities in the Mediterranean area, including Constantinople in 1453.


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The growth of modern industry from the late 18th century onward led to massive urbanization and the rise of new great cities, first in Europe and then in other regions, as new opportunities brought huge numbers of migrants from rural communities into urban areas. England led the way as London became the capital of a world empire and cities across the country grew in locations strategic for manufacturing. In the United States from 1860 to 1910, the introduction of railroads reduced transportation costs, and large manufacturing centers began to emerge, fueling migration from rural to city areas.

World Cities Day was established on 27 December 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/68/239, in which the General Assembly decided to designate 31st October, beginning in 2014, as World Cities Day and invited States, the United Nations system, in particular UN-Habitat, relevant international organizations, civil society and all relevant stakeholders to observe and raise awareness of the Day”. The first World Cities Day was held in October 2014 and since then it has been observed annually with host city changing every year. 


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World Cities Day Significance: 

Cities have been centers of trade, religion, culture, and education throughout history. However, the sheer scale of urban settlements today only became possible after the Industrial Revolution. The revolution drove people to cities in search of job opportunities in factories and since the industrial revolution the cities have become so important now in our world. We can see that any new innovation or technology in our world now starts from cities. Cities are also large markets for consumption and that’s why they also offers many job amd business opportunities for people that is the main reason why people moves to cities and it also offers better lifestyle and facilities. 

Urbanization is very important as it provides the potential for new forms of social inclusion, including greater equality, access to services and new opportunities, and engagement and mobilization that reflects the diversity of cities, countries and the globe. Yet too often this is not the shape of urban development. Inequality and exclusion abound, often at rates greater than the national average, at the expense of sustainable development that delivers for all. That’s why this day was created with an aim to encourage global cooperation towards the urban development of world in a sustainable way so that the living standards of the people can go high of people moving to cities so that they get better lifestyle with new opportunities. 

According to UN report, cities should be encouraged to innovate and experiment, and also to learn from one another in order to hasten this transition, for instance through “twin town” initiatives or city networks. Moreover, the report says it will be necessary to replace a “competitive cities” governance approach to urban economies with a “well-grounded cities” approach that serves the interests of all citizens. But it is mostly seen that the regions of our world especially in the developing countries which are getting urbanized quickly are lacking planning which is causing major serious issues like overcrowding, lack of basic sanitation or amenities, slums, poor living conditions, bad infrastructure, etc. 

These all problems needs to be addressed as they are gonna determine the future of our world as today, around 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in towns and cities, with the level of urbanisation projected to reach almost 70 per cent by 2050. Much of the growth in urban populations will take place in the developing regions of our world like Asia and Africa, especially in China, India and Nigeria where the fertility rates remain high and that’s why it is very important to have a sustainable urban settlement as urbanization is only gonna increase over the time and the current infrastructure of many large cities around the world is insufficient for these large migrations which needs to fixed before it causes serious problems in future. 

World Cities Day Theme: 

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. 

This year’s global observance of World Cities Day 2022 is planned in Shanghai, China under the sub-theme of  “Act Local to Go Global.” This theme want to bring different partners and diverse stakeholders together to share their experiences and approaches to local action, what local action worked and what is needed to empower local and regional governments to create greener, more equitable and sustainable cities.

Local action is critical to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. UN-Habitat has been at the forefront of SDG localization since the very endorsement of the 2030 Agenda. Since then, UN-Habitat has been working to advance SDG localization by providing technical expertise to partners across the globe, by leading the development of cutting-edge research, by capacitating local and regional governments on SDG localization, and by strengthening the voice of local governments and local actors within the main international and UN-led fora on SDGs.

Most Searched FAQs on World Cities Day: 

1. When is World Cities Day observed? 

World Cities Day is annually observed on 31st October. 

2. Which city is gonna host World Cities Day 2022? 

Shanghai in China is gonna host World Cities Day 2022 event. 

3. What is the theme of World Cities Day 2022? 

The theme of World Cities Day 2022 is “Act Local to Go Global.” 

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