Keynote by Hazem Galal

Urbanization and urban demographics are shaping a world both more complex and more unstable, spiraling up with digital transformations and un precedented levels of systemic risks -as illustrated by the covid19 pandemic. While the pivotal role of urbanization for social development and safeguarding the environment has been widely acknowledged since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and the Habitat Summits of Istanbul (1996) and Quito (2016), we live with a paradigm of urban and infrastructure development focused on powering growth with new technologies, which falls short of realizing the full transformative potential of urban development. G20 Saudi Arabia offers an unprecedented series of opportunities to change course, initiating a process towards effective multilevel policy-making including cities and metropolises that makes urbanization a driving force for the achievement of the SDGs and inclusive growth. The legacy of the Germany, Argentina and Japan G20 presidencies provides a background of high-level principles on habitat and regional planning (2018), quality infrastructure (2019) and the crossing of the G20 and the Agenda 2030 priorities in an interconnected world (2017-2019). In 2020, as the covid19 pandemic highlights the deep interdependency of nations and cities to achieve prosperity, security and sustainability, the development of the G20 engagement group urbanization, the Urban 20 offers a unique opportunity to build a way forward for the G20 with cities. Ahead of the upcoming COP15 Biodiversity, the panel will connect U20, S20 and T20 agendas to discuss the role of cities & metros to shape a multilevel governance that supports growth and meets the planetary boundaries. Moving from principles to actionable agendas, the panel will explore how to realize the full potential of cities as both locations and agents of sustainable development.

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