Launch of the call to action for sustainable urbanisation
A call to action on sustainable urbanisation has been launched to ask for greater priority to be given within the Commonwealth on sustainable urbanisation, for a closer multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary collaboration by all stakeholders, and to invite those working in the field of sustainable urbanisation to support the initiative in the run up to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2021 and COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. This is a partnership initiative by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), with support from The Prince’s Foundation, the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure and the Rwandan Ministry of Local Government.
The release follows a programme of online events focused on sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth, which attracted over 2000 individual participants from over 80 countries from June to September 2020. Opening those events, HRH The Prince of Wales praised the multi-sectoral approach and said: ‘I hope that between us we can seize these opportunities towards a better and more harmonious way of living together as local communities, and I very much look forward to hearing of the practical outcomes from this programme.’ He spoke of the importance of local government and said: ‘If we do not achieve the SDGs in cities and towns, we will certainly miss the targets overall. In this respect, city and local government mayors and leaders have a crucial convening and leadership role to play in ensuring the social, economic and environmental needs of local communities are met.’ Ahead of CHOGM where the subject of sustainable urbanisation will be discussed, Commonwealth high commissioners in London attended a briefing on 26 January, prior to the public launch of the call to action together with a good practice platform which illustrates the sort of innovative and collaborative work already being undertaken locally to help advance sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth. CLGF chairperson, Reverend Mpho Moruakgomo, said: ‘With nearly 50% of the projected increase in the world’s urban population by 2050 forecast to be in the Commonwealth, there has never been a more important time for members of the Commonwealth to work together on the issues of rapid urbanisation, climate change, exacerbated in the context of a global pandemic. City governments and leaders, and local leaders play a pivotal role in building safe, healthy and sustainable cities and towns.’
Dr Joanna Newman, chief executive and secretary general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, said: ‘Higher education has a critical role to play in tackling the issues of rapid urbanisation and climate change. From teaching architects to training town planners, from understanding the impact of urbanisation to developing technical and policy solutions, universities are helping to create a more sustainable future for our rapidly changing and expanding global populations. Universities also provide a bridge between research, policy and practice, working together with communities, the built environment professions, and local and national government. The ACU is proud to be working with our fellow Commonwealth organisations and engaging our member universities to advance sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth.’ Eleanor Mohammed, president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners said: ‘Planners around the world work with communities and governments to create the cities of the future. Sustainable Urbanisation is critical if we are to achieve resilient, inclusive and productive cities and given that urban economies account for 80% of the global GDP, we need them to be successful. The CTA asks for the leaders of Commonwealth nations to ensure Sustainable Urbanisation is at the forefront of the recovery and future development agenda.’ Kalim Siddiqui, ‘resident of the Commonwealth Association of Architects, said: ‘The Commonwealth Association of Architects are deeply concerned with the present dismal situation of the built environment directly attributed to climate change and rapid urbanisation. This is a most critical situation as many Commonwealth cities and human settlements are grappling with poverty, informality and migration. We believe that the Commonwealth is the only multilateral entity that could leverage its rich network of decision makers and practitioners. We are also confident that the Commonwealth has the potential to transform the way in which it does business to achieve an appropriate Commonwealth response to the challenges and opportunities of urbanisation.’ The call to action asks for a greater focus on enabling sustainable urbanisation in Commonwealth policy making; a Commonwealth dialogue to define and implement a new way of working across our respective networks towards multi-level governance and sustainable urbanisation; and a commitment by member states to a new Commonwealth initiative of practical action to support sustainable cities and human settlements across the Commonwealth to respond to the call to action and to play their full role in achieving the SDGs. This will be driven by Commonwealth cities and human settlements, and delivered by relevant Commonwealth partners and other governmental, professional and technical partners. By mobilising its network, the Commonwealth has a unique opportunity to ensure that sustainable urbanisation is at the heart of our common future, and is firmly rooted in Commonwealth values, as we work collectively to achieving the global goal of leaving no one and no place behind.