What the World Cities Report 2020 means for GWOPA

The 2020 World Cities Report was released on World Cities Day, October 31st 2020, and focuses on the value of sustainable urbanization. The report present the most up-to-date and pressing topics for urban areas today, and suggest policy points for governments and decision-makers.

The report seeks to analyze the intrinsic value of cities in generating economic prosperity, mitigating environmental degradation, reducing social inequality, and building stronger institutions, and suggests that these factors can drive positive transformative change.

For the GWOPA network and partners, the report reiterates the importance of partnerships and solidarity, especially in the urban water and sanitation space and highlights the importance of urban basic services in achieving a better urban future for all. Framed in the context of COVID-19, the report underlines they way in which the pandemic has revealed stark inequalities in our cities, particularly in terms of access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. Better city planning, management and governance are key ingredients to addressing these inequalities and moving towards Sustainable Development Goal 6, and many of the other targets of the SDGs.

“Urbanization can be a pathway to eradicating poverty: Urban areas offer significant opportunities to generate prosperity, which in turn can be leveraged to eradicate poverty by filling the gaps in sustainable infrastructure, such as housing, water, sanitation and transport.” World Cities Report, page xxvii.

In the area of water and sanitation specifically, the report highlights an initiative in the Surkhandarya province of Uzbekistan as an example of poverty reduction through improved water supply and sanitation. In the early 2000s, the Government made access to safe and reliable water supply and improved sanitation a top priority and saw tangible improvement in the health and living conditions of city inhabitants. Although is only one example, it is encouraging to see the commitment and work of a public body in the area of water and sanitation featured prominently.

The report points out the importance of building new and innovative partnership models among different stakeholders, “Harnessing the value of urbanization requires revitalized partnerships, effective mobilization from multiple sources and a strong commitment from government, the private sector and various development partners.”

Read the full World Cities Report