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China's Home Event: Improving the Quality of Communities and Cities

2021-05-28 | UPSC

On October 31, 2020, China's main event of World Cities Day was held in Fuzhou, hosted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Fujian Provincial People's Government, UN-Habitat, and organized by Fuzhou Municipal People's Government. The annual theme of this year's World Cities Day is "Improving the Quality of Communities and Cities."

The World Cities Day 2020 China main event included the opening ceremony, the reading ceremony of the Fuzhou Initiative, the launching ceremony of the Shanghai Handbook-2020 Annual Report, keynote speeches, the exhibition of urban development cases, and related supporting activities. Government officials, experts and scholars, community representatives from China, Russia, Germany, and other countries, regions, and international organizations will share their experiences and practices in promoting high-quality urban development and improving the living environment around the annual theme of "Improving the Quality of Communities and Cities."

Mr. Hu Jian, Director of the Department of Planning, Finance, and Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, hosted the opening ceremony. Wang Ning, Governor of Fujian Province, opened the event. Jiang Wanrong, Vice Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Lin Baojin, Member of the Standing Committee of Fujian Provincial Committee and Secretary of Fuzhou Municipal Committee, and Li Dejin, Vice Governor of Fujian Province, attended the event and delivered speeches. UN Secretary-General Guterres, UN Under-Secretary-General Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation Stasysn delivered video messages.

In his speech, Vice Minister Jiang Wanrong pointed out that since its establishment, World Cities Day has been expanding its global influence and has played an essential role in promoting sustainable urban development and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda worldwide.

Since the reform and opening up, China has made historic achievements in promoting urbanization, but many problems in the urbanization process cannot be ignored. The just-concluded Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee planned the direction of China's economic and social development in the next five years, depicting a grand blueprint for the fundamental realization of socialist modernization by 2035, proposing to improve the urban and rural living environment, improve the new urbanization strategy, and promote a new type of urbanization with people at its core. Looking ahead, we will adhere to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as our guide, push forward urban renewal and quality improvement, promote green urban development, improve the quality of the human living environment, build complete residential communities, improve urban governance, and focus on solving outstanding problems such as urban diseases.

China is willing to continue in-depth cooperation with countries worldwide in the field of housing and urban-rural construction, discuss and exchange practical experiences and innovative initiatives to improve the quality of communities and cities, and jointly address various challenges in the urbanization process and build better urban homes.

In his speech, Secretary-General Guterres said that this year's World Cities Day highlights the extraordinary contribution of grassroots communities worldwide. The value of communities has become a particular focus of attention in the new crown epidemic. Cities have borne the brunt of the pandemic epidemic and have suffered greatly. Already 55% of the world's population lives in urban areas, which is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. Today's rapidly urbanizing world must respond effectively to this pandemic and prepare for future infectious disease outbreaks.

He noted that pandemic outbreaks often overwhelm public health and support services. Communities need to organize to keep their neighborhoods safe and functioning while engaging with local and national governments to support official counter-epidemic initiatives. Communities are innovative, resilient, proactive, and play a critical role in building a sustainable economic and social environment. As we rebuild from the epidemic and enter a decade of action for sustainable development, we have an opportunity to reinvent the way we live and interact. It is critical that localities act. Urban communities will achieve more inclusive and lasting results if they are empowered by participation in policy and decision-making processes and access to financial resources, allowing us to place communities at the heart of the future cities.

In her speech, Executive Director Sharif thanked China for the tremendous work it has done to implement World Cities Day, appreciated the determination and action of Chinese governments at all levels in responding positively and taking innovative initiatives in the face of the epidemic, and hoped to continue to work extensively and deeply with China to build cities with people at the core and healthy development. She noted that this year's World Cities Day focuses on cities and communities, as sustainable development should always be people-centered, leaving no one and no place behind. This year's World Cities Day coincides with the Newcastle Pneumonia pandemic. The epidemic is still undermining sustainable development and affecting the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Many countries have suspended investment in development and progress. To achieve economic recovery, cities must take the lead.

She emphasized that the Newcastle pneumonia outbreak shows the importance of community, solidarity, and resilience in China and worldwide. We all want healthy, low-carbon, low-pollution cities that are walkable. Community is a central element in making cities healthier. She called on countries to value community and called on all sectors of society to act together in pursuit of a resilient, inclusive, equitable, and green economic recovery to achieve the vision of "Better City, Better Life."

Fuzhou Mayor You Mengjun read out the Fuzhou Initiative, which leaders of participating cities on stage witnessed. The Fuzhou Initiative proposes to adhere to the concept of joint construction, sharing, and governance, the concept of ecological priority, the balance between tradition and modernity, and the idea of people-centered development.

Translated by Yan Chen