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Juan José Pons Izquierdo, Professor of Geography at the University of Navarra and member of committee Social of Territorial Policy.

Cities, drivers of social change

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:04:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper
At the end of December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the decision to establish October 31 as "World Cities Day". We celebrate today, therefore, the first of these commemorations, aimed at bringing to the forefront the reality of the planet's urban environments and the billions of people - citizens who live in them.
This UN decision recognizes the growing importance of cities, which are already home to more than half the world's population and are the great economic and political centers of our time. In fact, they always have been, because throughout history they have played a fundamental role in the creation and dissemination of new ideas of all kinds subject: social, economic, artistic, etc., and in the political and institutional development of states. In the middle of the last century, barely a third of the world's population lived in cities, whereas today we are close to reversing that proportion. In Europe (one of the world's most urbanized continents) and, more specifically, in Spain, the population living in cities is now close to 80% of the total.
Other continents, such as Africa and Asia, are still predominantly rural, although they are advancing rapidly in their urbanization process. In fact, many of the world's large macrocities, with more than 8 or 10 million inhabitants, are located there or will be in the coming years. In contrast, the traditional metropolises of the more developed countries are hardly growing and are even losing inhabitants, although they continue to maintain their economic and decision-making preponderance.
reference letter For this first World Cities Day, the slogan 'Leading urban transformations' has been adopted, which refers to an aspect of great relevance and topicality: the dynamism of cities and the continuous succession of changes taking place in them. Leading urban changes means nothing other than addressing them proactively: thinking about a future for cities and fighting to make it a reality. And all this while giving citizens, the true protagonists of the celebration, a central role in the process.
This year's event will have its central event in Shanghai (China), although many other cities around the world will join this UN-sponsored celebration, and there will undoubtedly be more as this commemoration is consolidated in the international calendar.
At final, welcome to this new World Cities Day, which will serve to remind us and make us aware of the characteristics and status of the physical and social environment in which most of our lives take place. The main economic, social and environmental challenges of our time take place in urban environments, hence the relevance of this celebration. Whatever has to happen in the future of humanity will undoubtedly happen in cities.