Full statement by Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development on the Commemoration of World Cities Day
Over half the world’s populations now live in cities, with the number expected to double by 2050. The common challenges associated with cities and urban areas include inadequate housing, environmental exploitation, impacts due to climatic changes, inadequate basic urban infrastructure and services, food security, decent jobs, and safety, among many competing demands. Conversely, the process of urbanization is one of the world’s most transformative trends, and present great opportunities for development.
The boom of urbanization has been leveraged by many developing countries to achieve sustainable development, by way of tailoring the way cities are planned, designed, financed, developed, governed, and managed. International development partners like the European Union and UNHabitat have referred to cities as engines of economic growth while the private sector views urban areas as drivers and incubators of innovation, industry, technology, entrepreneurship, and creativity; creating prosperity, enhancing social development, and providing employment.
Globally, making cities sustainable under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a crucial recognition and testament that the battle to achieve sustainability can be won or lost in cities. It is in cities that lasting impacts on communities manifest to ensure that “no one and no place” is left behind. In addition, the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 68/239 of 27 December 2013, designated every 31st October as World Cities Day (WCD). This date set aside to commemorate World Cities seeks to promote global interest in urbanization, and to engender international cooperation to address the challenges of urbanization, thereby contributing to sustainable urban development.
The general theme for WCD is ‘Better City, Better Life’, with each year having a different sub-theme selected, to either promote successes of urbanization or address specific challenges resulting from urbanization. This year’s theme for World Cities Day 2020 is “Valuing our Communities and Cities”.
The day is expected to promote the local community’s interest in urbanization, push forward cooperation among the Government of Uganda MDAs, CSOs/NGOs, and development partners in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development. Uganda’s ten (10) new regional cities of Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Hoima, Jinja, Lira, Masaka, Mbarara, Mbale, and Soroti, are expected to take advantage to commemorate WCD as proposed in this concept note.
Urbanization and COVID-19 Response, Challenges, and Opportunities
World Cities Day is a moment to reflect on our cities and consider their future. In the last 12 months, city life has changed dramatically. The health impact of COVID-19 alongside the social, political, and financial upheavals, is reshaping urban life around the world in an unprecedented manner. Urbanization has the potential to create opportunities for a better life, provide pathways out of poverty and act as an engine of economic growth, but the contribution of diverse communities within cities is often only recognized to a limited extent if at all. Yet it is increasingly clear that communities are the lifeblood for cities and are part of the essential building blocks providing the economic, environmental, and social value that leads to an improved quality of life for all.
As national and local governments adopt various responses to COVID-19, the role and value of communities in urban settings have been brought into sharp emphasis forcing us to reconsider the importance of local actions for urban resilience and recovery. The pandemic has highlighted the core weaknesses in many urban systems, such as economies that rely too heavily on global and national markets, without sufficient recognition of the contribution and significance of local, social, and economic actors and networks.
Communities are innovative, creative, resilient, and pro-active in terms of finding solutions, particularly during crises. How cities manage to mobilize their various communities, in terms of different identity groups, location, and economic status, to address challenges like COVID-19, climate and inequality, will contribute to their success. This World Cities Day reflects on community value ranging from local volunteering and people organizing themselves in their own neighborhoods to social movements that challenge poverty and racism. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the role of community work in making cities resilient and functional. Communities have organized to respond to the disruption of food and economic supply chains and to support many vital city functions. In informal settlements and slums, communities are grappling with the additional hardships created by COVID-19 but still make a significant contribution to local responses. At the same time, individual households also contribute by providing an enabling environment for work and study in the home. The challenge is to ensure communities’ value is maintained beyond the virus outbreak, so they are at the heart of building sustainable cities.
A number of urban development players have come together to undertake a series of both physical and Online activities to consider how diverse urban communities can be better recognized, supported and their qualities maximized in new ways. This shall focus on how the value of communities can be strategically utilized through policy engagement with a central place both in decision-making and in implementation. Doing so will better address the current COVID-19 responses and make a significant long-term contribution to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11.n
Goal of WCD
The main goal of commemorating World Cities Day 2020 in the regional cities of Uganda is to raise awareness of a city as a catalyst for economic growth and sustainable development.
Specific objectives of WCD commemoration events.
• Promote sustainable development goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities
• Demonstrate good practices by urban communities in achieving resilience and sustainable development
• Increase awareness of how to re-imagine the future of mobility and urban infrastructure in African cities.
• Capture the attention of key players in the continued development of new cities in Uganda
• Strengthen partnerships between key players and urban communities towards developing sustainable cities for all, in Uganda
The ongoing project on Green Urbanization and Industrialization project by the EU and GGGI
The European Union represented by the European Commission in Uganda and the Government of Uganda through the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) have since July 2020 signed a cooperation agreement to advance Greening Uganda’s Urbanization and Industrialization agenda. This project is part of the European Union’s Inclusive Green Economy Uptake Programme (GreenUP) program financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to be implemented for 36 months. Under the Agreement, GGGI is supporting the Government of Uganda (GOU) to strengthen its role to deliver a middle-income status with all interventions are aimed at acceleration of investment in the green growth pathway.
In line with EU’s Inclusive Green Economy Program that is promoting a paradigm shift which better acknowledges the economic opportunities that ‘green’ policies, markets, and business practices can deliver, the proposed project will support Uganda in transitioning towards a Green Growth path that will facilitate sustainable green investments (public and private) at national and sub-national level as well as increased employment.
The project’s impact objective is, therefore: “Uganda achieves strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth”. The Uganda Vision 2040 specifically highlights industrialization and urbanization as key focal areas it envisions that 60% of Ugandans will live in urban areas by 2040 and therefore, actions of designing, servicing, and attracting investments into green secondary cities/municipalities will help Uganda benefit from the economic and social dividends that come with urbanization.
Therefore, the project is aligned with these key sectors, and the impact will be delivered through linked outcomes defined as following:
• Outcome 1: Green City Development is pursued and demonstrated in four Secondary Cities
• Outcome 2: Green Industrialization is pursued and demonstrated at four locations
• Outcome 3: Efficient and effective waste management is pursued and demonstrated
• Outcome 4: Green Growth integrated into the National Development Plan’s planning and budgeting
Developing a green industrialization masterplan, designing green industrial parks and green cities, will set the country on a low carbon development pathway, generate green jobs, reduce the environmental burden on natural resources and contribute substantially to increasing green investment flows into Uganda for 4 new cities namely: Arua, Gulu, Jinja, and Mbarara.
Under this partnership, the EU, GGGI, and Government of Uganda MDAs will work closely across several key areas, which include jointly carrying out analytical projects on urbanization and industrialization for green growth; disseminating and sharing green growth and knowledge through hosting joint events and forums; and collaborating on the implementation of programmatic activities.
The EU and GGGI will under this program work with several Uganda MDAs including the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED); National Planning Authority (NPA); Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD); Ministry of Works and Transport (MoWT); Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA); Ministry of Local Government (MLG); Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) Uganda Investment Authority (UIA); Ministry of Trade Cooperatives and Industry (MoTCI) and representative District governments. Other strategic partners are Makerere University Department of Architecture and Physical Planning and the Uganda Green Building Council (UGBC). The collaborative work will help build capacity and provide advisory services to support the identification of specific opportunities for Green Urban Development interventions supported through integrated planning to take these opportunities into investments to deliver low carbon secondary cities as well as developing bankable projects, national financing vehicles, and risk-reducing instruments to bridge the gap between finance and projects.