SDG Cities Takes Lead in 2023 Urban October

World Cities Day

January 11, 2024, Nairobi, Kenya

World Cities Day and the SDG Cities Hub Launch in Türkiye

The month of October holds significant importance to Cities and Urban Centres as the world commemorates the World Habitat Day and World Cities Day. Last year’s World Cities Day was held in the Municipality of Üsküdar of Istanbul, Türkiye on 31st October 2023, with the theme Financing Sustainable Urban Future for All taking lead.

“Cities have a vital role in the world.  This is where civilizations are born. They have a life, that is, they are born and grow, therefore they need to be cared for. f they are not cared for, they die. " - said Mehmet Ozhaseki, Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, and continued: "Local governments play a vital role in caring for the cities as they need to manage resources, finances and people living in their cities.”

The SDG Cities Global Initiative played a crucial role in the event, with the SDG Cities Lead Coordinator, Dyfed Aubrey, moderating a roundtable on “Financing Sustainable Future for All”. The discussion underscored the importance of capacity building to cities to achieve good financing, impacting local government officials with financial skills to inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities.  The event also addressed the impending climate crisis that the globe is facing with a roundtable capturing on how to turn waste to wealth. The First Lady’s, Emine Erdogan, Zero to Waste Programme was a best practice showcased highlighting how it has led to the increase of the recycling of plastics from 16% to 30% in Türkiye.

“Climate Crisis is negatively impacting our environment. Instead of worrying of the future, we need to act now. Now is the time to implement sustainable decisions. If we join our efforts, we will achieve the 2030 goals in the near future. Every decision we make impacts the rate oat which we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, First Lady Emine Erdogan, Republic of Türkiye.

 The Urban October concluded with the launch of the SDG Cities Hub and Balikesir Environment Centre in the Municipality of Balikesir, Türkiye, on November 2nd 2023. Mayor Yucel Yilmaz led the official ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Mayors from Latin America and Gabon. The SDG Cities Hub featured an exhibition on the Localization of the SDGs showcasing UN-Habitat’s global projects, as well as businesses and talents from the Municipality of Balikesir. A roundtable led by SDG Cities Lead Coordinator, Dyfed Aubrey, explained the concept of SDG Cities and how the SDG Cities Hub can best support the recognition of cities in Türkiye.

The opening of the SDG Cities Hub in Balikesir was attended by the members of UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board. These exceptional young people were selected from 9,000 applicants and are mandated to advise the agency on the youth-related programmes, ensure that its normative and operational work is underpinned by the principles of meaningful inclusion of young people, and raise awareness about UN-Habitat mandate among young people on a global scale.

For the newly selected Youth Advisors, the official events around launching the SDG Cities Hub in Balikesir and the networking opportunities that these events presented to them became an initiation into UN-Habitat’s global advocacy towards sustainable urbanization and localization of the Global Goals.  According to estimates, two-thirds of the SDGs can only be achieved through local and regional action. Young people are well aware of this fact and are eager to be part of the solution.

Balikesir’s SDG Cities Hub will focus on implementing and achieving the SDGs at the local level, specifically within cities and municipalities of Türkiye. The Hub will serve as collaborative space where local governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders will come together to work towards the common goal of sustainable development. It will be a one shop where activities such as localization of SDGs, multi-stakeholder collaboration, data collection, capacity building, awareness and advocacy will be carried out.