World Cities Day: a breath of fresh air in Marylebone
Over the last decade, natural disasters have affected more than 220 million people and caused economic damage of US$100billion per year. By 2030, without significant investment, natural disasters may cost cities worldwide that amount a year. Hundreds of cities around the world are struggling with the impact of urbanisation combined with natural crises. Conflicts, natural disasters, climate change and economic stress mean that cities need more support to become resilient. It is for this reason that the United Nations has chosen the theme of ‘Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities’ for this year’s World Cities Day. The UN has identified a pressing need for innovative tools and approaches that strengthen local administrations and empower citizens, while building their capacity to face new challenges and better protect human, economic and natural assets.
Polluted citiesOne area where there is an increasingly urgent need for pioneering solutions is air pollution. Just this week, two new studies found that air pollution causes half a million premature deaths in Europe each year and that more than 90% of the world’s young people are breathing toxic air. As a result, the director general of the World Health Organisation has urged commitment from government, community leaders and the private sector to take urgent action to halt this ‘silent public health emergency’.
"We need strong commitments and actions from everyone: government decision-makers, community leaders, mayors, civil society, the private sector and even the individual. It will take time and endurance but we all have a critical role to play."
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation