Call To Action

about

The Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation across the Commonwealth has been developed jointly by the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA), the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure, the Rwandan Ministry of Local Government and The Prince’s Foundation, with support from other Commonwealth organisations, governmental, professional and technical partners.

the call to action

The Call to Action calls for:

  • A greater focus on enabling sustainable urbanisation in Commonwealth policy making
  • A Commonwealth dialogue to define and implement a new way of working across our respective networks towards multi-level governance and sustainable urbanisation
  • A commitment by member states to a new Commonwealth Initiative of practical action to support sustainable cities and human settlements across the Commonwealth to respond to the Call to Action and to play their full role in achieving the SDGs. This will be driven by Commonwealth cities and human settlements, and delivered by relevant Commonwealth partners and other governmental, professional and technical partners.

By mobilising its network, the Commonwealth has a unique opportunity to ensure that sustainable urbanisation is at the heart of our common future, and is firmly rooted in Commonwealth values, as we work collectively to achieving the global goal of leaving no one and no place behind. To read and download the full version of the Call to Action click here.

Speaking on the launch of the Call to Action:

  • Minister Claver Gatete, Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure said: “I wish to reaffirm Rwanda’s strong dedication and commitment towards promoting and enabling sustainable urbanisation. which is seen as an engine for an inclusive socio-economic development. It cannot be over emphasized that sustainable urbanisation is also and will continue to be the main engine and enabler for the delivery of the SDGs and achieving our climate change targets. in preparation for CHOGM in Kigali this June, the Ministry of Infrastructure would like to confirm its support towards the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Summit that will be held on the side-lines of CHOGM. We believe that this event will provide a glorious opportunity to respond to the Call to Action with practical initiatives that can deliver a more effective inter-disciplinary and cross sector response.”
  • Dr Joanna Newman MBE, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities said: “Higher education has a critical role to play in tackling the issues of rapid urbanisation and climate change. From teaching architects to training town planners, from understanding the impact of urbanisation to developing technical and policy solutions, universities are helping to create a more sustainable future for our rapidly changing and expanding global populations. Universities also provide a bridge between research, policy and practice, working together with communities, the built environment professions, and local and national government. The ACU is proud to be working with our fellow Commonwealth organisations and engaging our member universities to advance sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth.”
  • Kalim Siddiqui, President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects said: “The Commonwealth Association of Architects are deeply concerned with the present dismal situation of the built environment directly attributed to climate change and rapid urbanization. This is a most critical situation as many Commonwealth cities and human settlements are grappling with poverty, informality and migration. We believe that the Commonwealth is the only multilateral entity that could leverage its rich network of decision makers and practitioners. We are also confident that the Commonwealth has the potential to transform the way in which it does business to achieve an appropriate Commonwealth response to the challenges and opportunities of urbanization.
  • Eleanor Mohammed, President of the Commonwealth Association of Planners said: “Planners around the world work with communities and governments to create the cities of the future. Sustainable Urbanisation is critical if we are to achieve resilient, inclusive and productive cities and given that urban economies account for 80% of the global GDP, we need them to be successful. The CTA asks for the leaders of Commonwealth nations to ensure Sustainable Urbanisation is at the forefront of the recovery and future development agenda.”
  • Rev Mpho Moruakgomo, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum said: “With nearly 50% of the projected increase in the world’s urban population by 2050 forecast to be in the Commonwealth, there has never been a more important time for members of the Commonwealth to work together on the issues of rapid urbanisation and climate change, exacerbated in the context of a global pandemic. City governments and leaders, and local leaders play a pivotal role in building safe, healthy and sustainable cities and towns”

background

By 2050 an extra 2.5billion people will be living in towns and cities, and nearly 50% of those new urban dwellers are projected to be in the Commonwealth. Rapid urbanisation is the reality for most Commonwealth member states. Since 2018, ACU, CAA, CAP and CLGF have been advocating to encourage the Commonwealth, as a network of organisations, to take a more integrated approach to the delivery of sustainable urbanisation across all its member states.

Consultations with our respective members, our partners and other stakeholders, together with High Commissioners and other stakeholders in 2019 and early in 2020, resulted in the preparation of a Call to Action. This was prepared to support our collective advocacy towards the Commonwealth Heads of Government at their summit, which was due to take place in Rwanda in June 2020 but postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19. 

With an estimated 90% of all reported Covid-19 cases, urban areas have become the epicentre of the pandemic and cities and towns have borne the brunt of the health and economic challenges world-wide, only adding further urgency to the partners’ efforts to see sustainable urbanisation integrated into the priorities of the Commonwealth. 

Starting the week that the postponed CHOGM would have begun, ACU, CAA, CAP and CLGF with the support of The Prince’s Foundation and the Government of Rwanda, embarked on a 12-week webinar series to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth. This series was designed to explore some of the opportunities, complexities and challenges of sustainable urbanisation, to share experiences and examples of good practice, and to promote debate on how best to leverage the power of the Commonwealth to achieve sustainable urbanisation.  The events attracted over 2,500 participants from over 80 countries and contributed to the development of this final Call to Action. A video, comprising a compilation of remarks from the high-level speakers who contributed to the programme can be watched here:

good practice platform

To accompany the Call to Action, the partners have created a Good Practice Platform which exemplifies the sort of innovative and collaborative work already being undertaken locally to help advance sustainable urbanisation in the Commonwealth. The intention is to illustrate how, with a sharper focus and appropriate resources, the Commonwealth can come together to more effectively tackle the challenges of climate change, rapid urbanisation and the recovery from Covid-19. 

Click here to view the Platform.

A number of international organisations have contributed examples to the Platform, if you have an example that demonstrates how cities and human settlements are already working with their local populations to embed sustainable development principles across cross-cutting themes please get in touch at info@commonwealthsustainablecities.org. Thank you to all those who have already contributed.

further information

If you are interested in the Call to Action and would like to become involved, then please contact us at info@commonwealthsustainablecities.org