World Cities Day: Put communities at heart of cities, says Guterres

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has said that there is need to put communities at the heart of every cities of the future, while recognized the extraordinary contribution made by grassroots communities in the cities and towns.

In his message for the celebration of this 2020 World Cities Day, 31 October, he said the value of communities has been brought into sharp focus during the response to COVID-19, while Cities have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

According to him, “Urban areas are already home to 55 per cent of the world’s population, and that figure is expected to grow to 68 per cent by 2050. Our rapidly urbanizing world must respond effectively to this pandemic and prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks.

“With the pandemic often overwhelming public health and support services, communities have organized to keep their neighbourhoods safe and functioning, engaging with local and national governments to support the official response”, he said.

He added that seeing neighbours shopping and cooking for the sick and elderly, residents cheering health workers, and local volunteer and faith-based groups supporting the vulnerable. Communities are innovative, resilient and proactive.

“Community play a vital role in building economically, socially and environmentally sustainable cities. Let us maintain this recognition of their value. As we rebuild from the pandemic and engage in the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development, we have an opportunity to reset how we live and interact”, he said.

Guterres noted that Local action is the key. “When urban communities are engaged in policy and decision making, and empowered with financial resources, the results are more inclusive and durable”, he said.

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