Working with partners to advocate for a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth.
By 2050, an additional 2.5 billion people will live in the world’s urban areas, with almost 50% of that growth forecast to be in the Commonwealth and 95% of that growth taking place in Africa and Asia. That represents a doubling of the urban population in the Commonwealth from 1 billion to 2 billion in the next 30 years. Commonwealth cities and towns will face enormous challenges as they deal with the combined pressures of climate change and rapid urbanisation.
In 2020, Commonwealth partners including the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), working in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) and The Prince’s Foundation, came together to develop the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Initiative (CSCI) and launch a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth.
The Call to action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth was published in advance of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and was accompanied by an extensive advocacy campaign. The Call to Action was underpinned by three key objectives:
- To bring a greater focus to bear on sustainable urbanisation in Commonwealth policy making
- To mobilise the power of the Commonwealth to work in a more integrated manner across its various networks toward multi-level governance and sustainable urbanisation
- To develop a programme of practical action to help deliver sustainable cities and human settlements across the Commonwealth
The advocacy campaign included an extensive programme of events (both online and in-person) with support from a broad range of partners including (then) HRH The Prince of Wales, the Commonwealth Secretary General and the Executive Director UN-Habitat. It concluded with a three day official side event at the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that was held in Kigali in June 2022.
On completion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Heads of Government adopted a Declaration on Sustainable Urbanisation to support Commonwealth cities mobilise resources to develop comprehensive, scalable programmes to address key challenges of sustainable urbanisation and build climate resilience to reduce risk and vulnerability.
The Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Scotland, remarked during the closing Press Conference that “These Declarations provide the guiding framework for the work of the Commonwealth over the coming period”.
Commenting following publication of the Declaration, UN-Habitat Executive Director HE Maimunah Mohd Sharif said: “I applaud Heads of Government for recognising sustainable urbanisation as a defining issue for the Commonwealth. With its shared values and extensive networks, the Commonwealth provides the perfect platform from which to engage with such critical challenges and I look forward to working with Commonwealth colleagues in the coming period.”
The partners to the Call to Action look forward to supporting the Government of Rwanda during its term as Commonwealth Chair in Office and to ensuring that the momentum and support for a greater focus on sustainable urbanisation across the Commonwealth achieved at the CHOGM is reflected in practical actions towards a more sustainable urban future for all.