The future shouldn’t suck

The GCH was honored to host a foresight exercise on urbanization and potential conflicts by the UN Futures Lab and UN University Center for Policy Research to discuss how we can re-imagine our ambition in creating a transition to safe, sustainable and more resilient cities. The contributions by a dozen of organizations from the International Geneva ecosystem made it especially valuable to better understand what is required to prevent rapid, unplanned urbanization to result in breakdown of public services and conflict.

The GCH believes that a scenario of a more desirable future is achievable, where the international community prioritize investments on building smart, green, resilient cities worldwide. The economy of scale for public and private services in cities, the concentration of knowledge and innovation capacity make cities a key part of the solution to global challenges. A mostly urban global population benefits from the enormous efficiencies of connected living.

Cities become the testing ground to find collective solutions to global challenges and transform the world economy towards a sustainable, resilient model that takes urbanization into account. They dramatically increase their own connectivity, sharing resources in a more equal and efficient way, and developing international agreements. The global economic growth spurred on by urbanization allows for greater investments in sustainable development worldwide.

During the discussion important issues came up, such as the transformation of the international financial system towards sustainable investments, including de-risking private investments in fragile settings. The growing trend of multistakeholder cooperation amongst the different actors (LRGs, States, and International Organizations), paving the way for joint investments in green energy, nature-based solutions, resilience and sustainability offer important opportunities. The changing nature of decision-making – closer to citizens – was considered by some as a high-potential avenue for more people-centered policies.

The GCH is convinced that a better involvement of LRGs in the multilateral processes addressing global challenges with local effects is the right approach to realize and benefit from an inclusive and effective multilateralism. We should all think about what urbanization in the future means for our own organizations and how the world we want to live in looks like.

Many thanks to Alana Poole (Office of the Secretary General of the UN), Chris Earney (UN Futures Lab) and Adam Day (UN University Center for Policy Research) for their guidance on this highly important topic and great cooperation.

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