The battle to achieve the SDGs will be won or lost in cities and human settlements where the majority of the global population resides. Cities are well placed to be centres of innovation and growth with the potential to attract investment, generate jobs and employment and benefit from economies of scale in infrastructure development etc. However they also face major challenges including rapid population growth, informalisation of jobs, housing and public transport, unreliable access to energy and water, the impact of climate change, and lack of investment capacity for development and service delivery. Many of the technical solutions to address the challenges of urbanisation already exist. There is an urgent need to build on progress to date with transformational leadership at all levels of government to empower the leadership of cities and municipalities to catalyse and develop the solutions that are appropriate to their context and needs and keep the community at the centre of their development.
The session will look at the critical importance of empowered political and technical/managerial leadership in cities and human settlements, with a strong focus on citizen participation as a key transformational element in achieving Agenda 2030, and SDG11. It will build on a Commonwealth session held at WUF 2018 and focus on how this commitment should be implemented. It will look at the capacity needs in the region and how the Commonwealth, working at all levels can more effectively raise awareness of the importance of empowering city and municipal governments with the powers, capacity and resources to plan and deliver a resilient and sustainable future in cities across the region, and ensure that the requisite leadership capacity is in place to make Agenda 2030 a reality for urban dwellers and those that rely on cities and human settlements for their work and services.