World Urbanism Day 2023: Theme History and Significance

OV Digital Desk
9 Min Read

World Urbanism Day is observed on November 8th each year to raise awareness about the importance of urban planning in creating sustainable, livable, and equitable cities. This day serves as an opportunity to promote the significance of well-designed urban environments that support the well-being of their inhabitants and foster social, economic, and environmental development.

On World Urbanism Day, various activities and events are organized to address urban challenges and promote effective urban planning practices. These initiatives may include seminars, workshops, conferences, and public discussions focusing on sustainable development, smart city initiatives, transportation planning, affordable housing, and the promotion of inclusive communities.

Theme of World Urbanism Day 2023

The theme of World Urbanism Day 2023 is Financing a sustainable urban future for all.

 History of World Urbanism Day

World Urbanism Day, also known as World Town Planning Day, was first celebrated on November 8th, 1949, initiated by the late Professor Carlos Maria della Paolera of the University of Buenos Aires. The day was established to recognize and promote the role of planning in creating livable, sustainable, and equitable urban environments.


The main objective of World Urbanism Day is to highlight the significance of effective urban planning in addressing the complex challenges faced by cities, including rapid urbanization, infrastructure development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusivity. It serves as a platform for promoting the value of well-designed cities that prioritize the needs of their inhabitants and foster balanced and harmonious growth.

Since its inception, World Urbanism Day has gained global recognition, with numerous organizations, professional associations, and academic institutions participating in various activities and events to promote awareness and understanding of urban planning and sustainable development. The day serves as an opportunity for communities, policymakers, and urban planners to collaborate and share innovative ideas and best practices for creating resilient and vibrant urban spaces that cater to the needs of present and future generations.

Key facts about urbanization

Here are some key facts about urbanization across the globe:

  • By 2050, about 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas.
  • Over 60% of the land projected to become urban by 2030 is yet to be built.
  • In 1970, Tokyo and New York were the only megacities.
  • Megacities account for a small though increasing proportion of the world’s urban population: 9.9% in 2011 and 13.6% in 2025.
  •  Over half of the urban population lives and will continue to live in small urban centers with fewer than half a million inhabitants.
  • In 2011, Northern America had the highest level of urbanization (82.2 percent), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (79.1 percent).
  • The rate of urbanization is expected to be the highest in Africa and Asia over the coming decades.
  • Over the next four decades, the urban population is likely to treble in Africa and to increase by 1.7 times in Asia.
  • Of the 187,066 new city dwellers that will be added to the world’s urban population every day between 2012 and 2015, 91.5 percent, or 171,213, will be born in a developing country.
  • In 2011, 75 percent of the rural population was concentrated in 19 countries, mostly located in Africa or Asia (with the exception of Brazil, the Russian Federation, and the United States).
  • The largest rural population (853 million) is found in India, followed by China (666 million).
  • Cities contribute to up to 70 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Urban-based economic activities account for up to 55 percent of gross national product (GNP) in low-income countries, 73 percent in middle-income countries, and 85 percent in high-income countries.
  • Cities also generate a disproportionate amount of revenue for governments.
  • While the number of slum dwellers has increased, the proportion of the urban population living in slums in the developing world has declined from 46 percent in the year 1990 to an estimated 32 percent in 2010.
  • It is estimated that between the years 2000 and 2010, a total 227 million people in the developing world were moved out of slum conditions.

Significance of World Urbanism Day

World Urbanism Day holds significant significance for several reasons:

  • Promoting Sustainable Development: The day emphasizes the importance of sustainable urban development, encouraging the adoption of eco-friendly practices and the integration of green spaces and renewable energy sources in urban planning.
  • Fostering Inclusive Communities: World Urbanism Day advocates for the creation of inclusive communities that prioritize accessibility, affordability, and social equity, ensuring that urban spaces cater to the diverse needs of their residents.
  • Encouraging Innovation in Urban Planning: The day serves as a platform for showcasing innovative urban planning solutions and technologies that can address the complex challenges faced by cities, such as traffic congestion, housing shortages, and environmental degradation.
  • Raising Awareness of Urban Challenges: World Urbanism Day raises public awareness about the various urban challenges, including overpopulation, pollution, and inadequate infrastructure, and encourages communities to work together to find sustainable solutions.
  • Advocating for Smart City Initiatives: The day promotes the implementation of smart city initiatives that utilize technology and data to improve the quality of life for urban residents, enhance public services, and promote efficient resource management.
  • Fostering Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange: World Urbanism Day encourages collaboration and knowledge exchange among urban planners, policymakers, and communities, fostering a collective effort to create resilient and vibrant urban environments that can adapt to future challenges and changes.

By emphasizing the significance of World Urbanism Day, communities and stakeholders can work together to develop and implement effective urban planning strategies that contribute to the creation of sustainable, inclusive, and resilient cities for the benefit of present and future generations.

Events at World Urbanism Day

World Urbanism Day is marked by various events and activities aimed at promoting sustainable urban development and fostering dialogue on effective urban planning practices. Some common events that take place on this day include:

  • Seminars and Conferences: Educational seminars and conferences are organized to discuss urban planning trends, sustainable development practices, and innovative solutions for addressing urban challenges. These events bring together experts, policymakers, and community stakeholders to exchange knowledge and best practices.
  • Workshops and Training Programs: Workshops and training programs are conducted to educate urban planners, architects, and policymakers on the principles of sustainable urban development, smart city initiatives, and inclusive community design.
  • Community Engagement Activities: Community engagement activities, such as public forums, town hall meetings, and interactive workshops, are organized to involve local residents in the urban planning process and gather their input on shaping their neighborhoods and cities.
  • Exhibitions and Showcases: Exhibitions showcasing urban planning projects, sustainable infrastructure solutions, and innovative architectural designs are held to highlight the latest advancements and initiatives in creating environmentally friendly and livable urban spaces.
  • Policy Dialogues and Roundtable Discussions: Policy dialogues and roundtable discussions bring together key stakeholders, including government officials, urban planners, and community leaders, to deliberate on policy recommendations and strategies for promoting sustainable urban development and equitable growth.
  • City Tours and Walks: Guided city tours and walking tours are organized to showcase successful urban revitalization projects, historical landmarks, and sustainable infrastructure developments, providing participants with a firsthand experience of well-planned urban spaces.

These events collectively contribute to the promotion of effective urban planning practices and the development of sustainable, inclusive, and resilient cities that prioritize the well-being and quality of life of their residents.

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