The theme for this year’s World Cities Day is “Innovative Governance, Open Cities”.

Urban governance has been considered a key aspect in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the New Urban Agenda.

The sustainable development of cities is often suffering from several setbacks like rapid population growth, increased urban sprawl, housing shortage, air pollution and traffic congestion, as well as exclusion and unequal access to opportunities, which are continuously challenging each city’s existing governance model and their capacity to respond.

The traditional urban governance models have proved out of mode in the urban sustainability efforts. Many countries are working to improve their capacity of local governance, strengthening integrated territorial and urban development, metropolitan and inter-city cooperation, develop innovative citizen participation models and involve multiple parties in their joint pursuit of sustainable development.

The concept of “open city” is also proposed in the New Urban Agenda. A city is supposed to be an open and porous system, with mixed functions and a heterogeneous crowd of people sharing the same space and supporting its co-production. Its quality of life and its maintenance completely depends on the labor force, information and supplies that endlessly flow into it and is processed while shaping the space and enabling continuous transformations. As a hybrid combining diverse cultures, communities and industries, the city inspires ensuing urban innovation and human development. Open, diversified and cooperative cities are the dominant trend that leads the way for modern urban governance.

It is innovation that drives urban development and modernizes urban governance. Innovative urban governance should adapt and explore multi-stakeholders partnerships approaches, including more flexible and accountable public private partnerships, drawing social capitals to improve the economic efficiency of government funds ensuring equitable impacts of investments.

The management of urban governance should also be improved by introducing new information technologies and data solutions, to assist local authorities with more transparent, accountable, participatory and responsive governance systems. Further development of ‘smarter cities’ should also be pursued in order to improve the public service using new means of technology and to improve efficiency of information sharing mechanisms between the government and the citizens for inclusive urban governance.

This World Cities Day will focus on galvanizing discussions at all levels of government and relevant stakeholders on how to implement concrete initiatives to improve urban governance in the context of the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.