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World Metropolitan Day 2021: a unified voice calling for more resilient metropolitan spaces

World Metropolitan Day is the leading global campaign led by Metropolis and UN-Habitat promoting collective action to build more equitable, resilient and prosperous metropolises. More than 30 cities, metropolitan spaces, universities and international organisations all over the world organised activities to celebrate World Metropolitan Day under the tagline, Resilience for all: creating caring metropolises beyond Covid-19. More than 25 events and activities were organised from 1-12 October, engaging organisations, local and metropolitan governments, civil society and urban thinkers from all over the globe.

The World Metropolitan Day campaign offered an opportunity to contemplate the importance of creating a caring society that places people’s needs at the heart of decision-making, and reflects the diversity of our metropolitan spaces. Mayors from Latin America to Asia and Europe to North America expressed their support and encouraged Metropolis to continue providing a forum where people from all over the world can come together to discuss local and global challenges.


“The effects of the pandemic are the greatest obstacle to be overcome by cities and metropolitan regions across the planet. Events such as World Metropolitan Day are essential to face local and metropolitan challenges”. – Ricardo Nunes, Mayor of São Paulo


On World Metropolitan Day, 7 October, Metropolis and UN-Habitat organised a culminating event focused on key lessons learned from the pandemic, as well as recovery strategies to build more caring and resilient metropolitan spaces.


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Carolina Cosse, Mayor of Montevideo, explained how the municipality has implemented a targeted strategy to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable groups. Mario Durán, Mayor of San Salvador, highlighted the importance of reacting early to the pandemic. He also explained how the City Council has collaborated with medical teams to provide assistance to vulnerable communities.


“The effects of the pandemic are not equally felt by all, and it has not affected all areas of society equally.” – Carolina Cosse


Rahmatouca Sow Dièye, Adviser on Political Affairs and International Relations to UCLG Africa, emphasised that the delay in the implementation of the SDGs is not only due to the pandemic, but also the lack of funding for building resilience in countries and territories. Jordi Sánchez, Vice-President of Urban Policies at the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, highlighted the need to face the challenges of climate change through efficient urban and territorial planning.


“I do not see the pandemic as a crisis that we must face, but as an opportunity that will help us adapt and find solutions for future crises.” –  Jordi Sánchez


Remy Sietchiping, Chief of Policy, Legislation and Governance Section at UN-Habitat, concluded the session by pointing out that real change cannot happen without new ways of understanding the governance of major cities and metropolises.

Metropolitan spaces are uniquely positioned to bring about change and ensure well-being.  The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of creating caring societies that place people at the heart of decision-making and reflect the diversity of experiences in our metropolitan spaces. Building resilience is key to creating thriving communities. Yet, urban communities, particularly vulnerable groups, lack access to adequate housing, public spaces, green areas, services and infrastructure.


“Metropolitan spaces are fundamental for guaranteeing social rights and care for all. Now more than ever, it’s time to build caring and feminist metropolises”. - Laura Pérez Castaño, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona


World Metropolitan Day provided the opportunity for local, regional and metropolitan governments—and their communities—to promote collective action to build more equitable, resilient and prosperous metropolises.


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