G20 Summit: A pledge to build sustainable, inclusive cities of tomorrow
Issues of water security, climate, championing local culture and economy, and catalysing digital urban future were among the six points of action in the communiqué
New Delhi: The New Delhi Leaders Summit Declaration adopted by the G20 on Saturday committed to focus on inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities of tomorrow through better mobilisation of finances and efficient use of existing resources, with an appeal to Development Financial Institutions and the Multilateral Development Banks to explore the potential in their planning and financing of urban infrastructure wherever required.
Encouraging stakeholders to share their experiences from early pilot cases, the declaration endorsed the G20 Principles for Financing Cities of Tomorrow, the G20/OECD Report on Financing Cities of Tomorrow and G20/ADB, and the Framework on Capacity Building of Urban Administration.
Voluntary and non-binding in nature, these principles and reports are based on various policy briefs prepared by different G20 working groups and will guide stakeholders to customise their financing strategies and innovations, said Hitesh Vaidya, director of the National Institute of Urban Affairs, a government think tank that acted as the Urban-20 technical secretariat. Urban-20 is one of the engagement groups of G20.
Issues of water security, climate, championing local culture and economy, and catalysing digital urban future -- which were among the six points of action in the communiqué addressed to the G20 leadership at the Urban-20 mayoral summit in Gandhinagar this July -- found favour in Saturday’s G-20 declaration. “This is for the first time that cities and urban have been mentioned a number of times. Before this, the word ‘urban’ appeared only twice in all G20 declarations,” said Vaidya.
Shruti Narayan, regional director for South and West Asia at C-40, a network of 100 international cities and one of the global conveners of Urban-20, said: “It is important to understand that the lens to look at cities or financing them has to be cross sectoral and the declaration has addressed this through many facets... The inclusion of climate change in the preamble and the fact that the GHG emissions are on the rise are critical issues for G20 to address and acknowledge.”
She pointed out that the acceptance of current ecological degradation, the note on the cost-of-living crisis, the focus on just energy transition, addressing consumption-based emissions through the LIFE programme, the reference to skill gaps and the need for enhancing jobs for sustainable growth, and the realigned focus on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are welcome inclusions in the declaration.
“The G20 declaration has clearly represented the voice of global south, there is a clear acknowledgement that the world needs to take urgent and accelerated action on climate that has to focus on just energy transition, and there needs to be funding for adaptation. There is also clear inclusion on low-cost financing for supporting less developed countries, MDB reforms and leveraging private sector financing,” she added.
Vaidya underlined “a notable acknowledgement of cities as drivers of change” in the declaration. ”This underscores the growing recognition of the importance of urban areas in addressing global challenges, particularly in the context of sustainable development, climate action, and disaster risk reduction. The G20 communique recognises the need for enhanced financing and planning in cities of the global south to create inclusive, resilient, and sustainable urban environments,” he said.
As a key focus area, Vaidya pointed out, the G20 India summit has endorsed the importance of cities as drivers of both sustainable and economic growth. “The focus on circular economy and launching of resource efficiency and circular economy industry coalition is a great boost to India’s commitment on Waste Management and move towards zero waste,” he added.