This World Cities Day is the seventh global celebration since the day was launched in 2014 in Shanghai, China. The 2020 World Cities Day themed ‘Valuing our communities and cities’ underlines the importance of the local communities who are at the heart of building sustainable cities.

By 2050, nearly 7 out of 10 people in the world will live in cities. Cities have become the point of confluence where, economic, social, cultural and environmental factors converge and interact not just to tread the path of urban development, but also to support the implementation and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Goal 11, ‘Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further solidified the core importance of communities in achieving this Goal and for cities' action response, recovery and beyond. While the pandemic has transformed global and local economies substantially, local communities have continued to support this transition thereby sustaining local lives.

Through the UNESCO Cities Platform (which includes the UNESCO World Heritage Cities Programme), UNESCO puts emphasis on the central role of communities in urban development and aims to utilize its various city networks and programmes in supporting communities via education, culture, social and natural science, communication and information to enhance their capacities to better engage and respond to multifaceted transformations of urban spaces, while maintaining access to crucial basic services.

In this context, the World Heritage Cities Programme aims to position urban heritage at the centre of sustainable development, addressing ways to enhance wellbeing and liveability in (historic) cities by protecting urban heritage values and identity as well as the traditional practices, knowledge and skills, construction techniques using local building materials,? climate adaptation solutions, uses of space, productive activities, and many others, and integrating them in sustainable urban development strategies.

On the occasion of World Cities Day 2020 and the theme's focus on communities, the UNESCO Cities Platform is organising an online ‘Urban Dialogue’ bringing together speakers from academia, the public and private sectors, and civil society to discuss and consolidate the integral components of community participation as well as how UNESCO’s work with cities could further support sustainable urban development through community centered approaches. This dialogue will be accompanied by video messages from city representatives, communities and stakeholders to bring forth key ideas and expectations of communities and how by supporting them, we would be able to develop better cities that, in turn, would provide better lives to their inhabitants.

Learn more about this event here

Watch the series of videos by the UNESCO World Heritage Cities Programme in 2020 below:

Living with the COVID-19 pandemic in the cities of Africa


World Heritage City Lab: Well-being and local communities


World Heritage City Lab: Heritage-based recovery and resilience: Way forward


Re-thinking Urban Heritage for Recovery and Resilience


Urban Heritage and the Corona Virus Prof. Michael Turner


Reflections of an Expert Yukio Nishimura - Urban Heritage in the Era of the Pandemic


Conservation of the Urban Heritage: A new frontier for urban development management in Latin America


Watch this video about the impact of COVID-19 on the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (Russian Federation) below: