The United Nations General Assembly designated every October 31 as World Cities Day (WCD). The global observation of World Cities Day 2019 will be hosted by Ekaterinburg, in the Russian Federation. The theme is “Changing the World: Innovations and Better Life for Future Generations.” World Cities Day promotes sustainable, inclusive urbanization around the world and engenders international cooperation to address the challenges of urbanization. Urbanization is happening at a phenomenal rate. Half the world’s population now live in cities, and this is projected to increase to two-thirds by 2050. UN-Habitat leads the observation and promotion of World Cities Day in collaboration with partners from the United Nations system, international organizations, civil society, and business leaders. The general theme of World Cities Day is “Better City, Better Life,” and each year a different sub-theme is selected, to either promote successes of urbanization, or address specific challenges resulting from urbanization. Last year the host city for World Cities Day was Liverpool, UK and there were 50 activities in 23 countries to celebrate the day. Follow this link to learn more about World Cities Day.
As the world sees the biggest wave of urban growth in history – with almost 70% of its population expected to be living in urban areas by 2050, up from 56% today – the task of making cities greener and safer is becoming more urgent. That cities are attracting more people is nothing new noted urban specialist Philipp Rode, who runs London-based research centre LSE Cities. “People move to cities to live and work because they’re a solution: they significantly reduce the amount of movement and space required to do anything,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. From space shortages to worsening climate change, cities are being forced to adapt at a pace never experienced before. How far can they push their limits and make sure they leave no one behind? Follow this link to learn more
The children of the Rey Poeta orchestra filed onto the stage at Mexico City’s Anthropology Museum Monday morning clutching recycled instruments made from buckets, bits of piping, and plastic bottles. This was an innovative way to illustrate the 2019 World Habitat Day theme of Frontier technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth. The Museum’s auditorium was packed with over 300 dignitaries, politicians, experts, academics, NGOs, and young people and from round the world eager to share innovative ideas. The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, told a packed audience “We are facing a global waste management challenge on a global scale that requires urgent action. Our cities produce 7 to 10 billion tonnes of waste a year and current rubbish collection services don’t even reach half of the urban population in low-income countries.” Full video linked here. Outside the auditorium, participants signed a large board pledging to rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle their waste. This pledge echoes the UN-Habitat Waste Wise Cities campaign which encourages cities to sign up to promote sustainable waste management and has so far attracted over 80 cities. This year World Habitat Day celebrations were held across the world including Cameroon, Kenya, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Last year over 80 cities, towns and communities celebrated the day. Follow this link to learn more about World Habitat Day.
The U.S. Census Bureau released its most detailed look at America’s people, places, and economy. New state and local statistics on income, poverty, and health insurance are available in briefs, detailed tables, data profiles, and more. The American Community Survey (ACS) also produces statistics for more than 40 other topics. “Each completed survey is important because it is a building block used to create statistics about communities in America,” said Census Bureau American Community Survey Office Chief Donna Daily. “This information provides an important tool for communities to make data-driven decisions, assess the past, and plan for the future.” Follow this link to learn more.
In the center of Akron, Ohio’s newly developed main street, the city has plans to build a rubber statue. Not literally, of course. Instead, the city will honor its “Rubber City” roots with a 12-foot bronze statue of a rubber worker holding a finished tire. In a news release, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said the statue will, “pay tribute to the lives of rubber workers and their families. Without the sacrifices of these workers, Akron would not be the city it is today.” The statue makes for a great metaphor—not just for Akron, but for legacy cities across the country. Juxtaposed against a redeveloped main street, the statue pays homage to its history while acknowledging that times have changed and focusing on a new, modern economy. Follow this link to learn more.
In less than one year, the 2020 census will record just how much more racially diverse the nation has become, continuing the “diversity explosion” that punctuated the results of the 2010 census. While less authoritative than the once-a-decade national headcount, recently released U.S. Census Bureau estimates for 2018 make plain that racial minority populations—especially Hispanic, Asian, and black Americans—continue to expand, leaving fewer parts of the country untouched by diversity. The new estimates indicate that, for the nation as a whole, Hispanic residents comprise 18.3% of the population. The shares for black and Asian residents are 12.5% and 5.9%, respectively. But these national numbers change dramatically when you look closer at the country’s 3,100-plus counties. Follow this link to learn more.
Replacing urban vacant lots with green spaces provides countless benefits for local neighborhoods, including increased access to fresh produce, crime reduction, deeper community engagement, increased property values, and even improved mental and physical health. The city of Cleveland has one of the country’s highest rates of vacant homes and lots, leaving many local residents hoping for more gardens to beautify public spaces. That’s where Summer Sprout, the city’s longstanding community gardening program, comes in. Launched in 1976, the program took off when the City of Cleveland partnered with the Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County, in 1977. Follow this link to learn more.
When Asian longhorned beetles were first discovered in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2008, it came as a shock. “I knew our life was going to change,” said Patty Ruffini, then the United States Department of Agriculture’s State Plant Health Director for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, in an interview for Worcester’s Telegram and Gazette. The beetles likely arrived in Worcester burrowed in wooden shipping pallets from Asia. They are voracious tree pests, and are particularly fond of maples. Follow this link to learn more.