31 Oct 2023

World Cities Day brings Urban October to an end on 31 October each year and was first celebrated in 2014. World Cities Day aims to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.

2023 Theme: Financing Sustainable Urban Future for All

World Cities Day falls every year on 31 October, closing Urban October –  a month of activities, events, and discussions around urban sustainability in October. Urban October is an opportunity to foster dialogue at the global and local levels about the challenges and opportunities created by the fast rate of change in our cities and towns. The month begins with World Habitat Day on the first Monday of the month and ends with World Cities Day on 31 October. The theme for Urban October 2023 focused on SDG 11, “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, recognizing cities as centers for economic growth and development that also face demographic, environmental, economic, and social challenges.

World Cities Day 2023 is celebrated under the theme “Financing sustainable urban future for all”, and will explore how we can unlock transformative investment in urban planning and achieve adequate fiscal decentralization.

While the global economic outlook remains fragile amid a convergence of crises that are threatening to further reverse progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2023 projects that global growth will decelerate to 1.9 per cent in 2023. It is also estimated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and IEA, that roughly $2.6 trillion dollars is required every year until 2030 to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and stay on course towards a net-zero society by 2050. (United Nations, 2023).

This amount may appear huge but compared to annual global savings and other large financing markets, it is achievable. The availability of capital is large enough to solve global infrastructure needs. To unlock this capital, a paradigm shift is essential to inform the way efforts toward sustainable development is deployed in low-to-middle income countries. A significant drop in development grant funding and an increase in public investment is a clear signal that a change from a granting model to a financing model is crucial in keeping up the pace towards attaining the SDGs.

While the financing model is not entirely new for public authorities, this period of economic downturn has not only elevated the urgency of scaling up investments for development but has also provided an opportunity for transformative innovative finance to be prioritized in public discourse.

The World Cities Day Global Observation will take place in the Municipality of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Türkiye. It will feature a High-Level Opening Ceremony of the Global Observance of World Cities Day and two roundtables, respectively on financing sustainable future for all and waste to wealth.

Cities and Environment

Cities are responsible for around 75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with transport, buildings, energy, and waste management being among the largest contributors. Thus, cities have a critical role to play in the fight against climate change and the global effort to meet the objective of the Paris Agreement. Creating sustainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive cities and towns.

Cities are on the front line of climate change impact and must be at the heart of climate action. Many cities and communities around the globe are already taking action to build climate resilience and identify successful pathways to reduce GHG emissions. Global initiatives – such UN-Habitat’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI), the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy or the C40 Cities network – are fostering collaboration between cities and promoting innovative solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change in urban areas.

Role of Geneva

Various organizations in Geneva are active in making cities more sustainable. Visit our dedicated update for more information.

Messages and Videos for World Cities Day 2023

UN Secretary-General Declaration on World Cities Day 2023


In the occasion of World Cities Day 2023, various events are organized in Geneva and beyond. 

Financing Sustainable Future for All

31 October 2023 | Üsküdar in Istanbul, Türkiye and UN TV

From Waste to Wealth

31 October 2023 | Üsküdar in Istanbul, Türkiye and UN TV


ITU Webinar | World cities day: digital transformation for a better urban life

31 October 2023 | International Telecommunication Union

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