World Cities Day - October 31
(Last Updated On: November 9, 2022)


October 31st is World Cities Day when the United Nations focuses on global urbanization. Along with promoting urbanization, the UN addresses the challenges urbanization presents. Cities collaborate on sustainable urbanization.

Urbanization refers to the increasing numbers of people that live in urban areas. This trend is a relatively new development. At one time, a majority of the world’s population lived in rural areas. In 1800, over 90% of the world’s population lived in rural areas. Throughout the 19th century, many high-income countries began to see a shift. More and more people were moving into urban areas.

In the United States, this trend was especially true. By the year 2000, 80 percent of the population lived in urban areas. On a global scale, half of the world’s population lives in cities. Some of the world’s most populous cities include:

  • Tokyo – 37 million
  • Delhi – 28 million
  • Mexico City – 21 million
  • Cairo – 20 million

New York City has 8.6 million people, making it the most populous city in the United States. The number of people living in cities is expected to double by 2050. Countries that will contribute the most to urbanization by the year 2050 include India, China, Nigeria, Indonesia, and the United States.

When urbanization happens too quickly, it causes multiple challenges. These include congested traffic, environmental pollution, increased crime rates, and reduced amounts of natural resources. Those living in cities often experience sustainability challenges, as well. These include a lack of affordable housing, decent jobs, essential services, food security, and education.
For these reasons, the UN realizes the importance of achieving sustainability. These requirements mean better planning for infrastructure, utilizing technology, and enhancing social development. However, urbanization isn’t all bad. For example, urban areas are often more socially inclusive, experience greater equality, and provides access to new opportunities.

HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldCitiesDay

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) observes the day by showcasing their full range of activities and advocating for people-centered urban development models. Many city governments throughout the world also hold special events that discuss the advantages and disadvantages of urbanization.

To participate:

  • Educate yourself on urbanization and what it could mean for your future
  • Learn what you can do to make your city a better place to live
  • Learn about the challenges of urban design by watching the documentary Urbanized
  • Read popular books on urbanization, such as Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World by Doug Saunders

Spread awareness day on social media with #WorldCitiesDay


The UN General Assembly created World Cities Day in December 2013. On October 31, 2014, World Cities Day was observed for the first time.

Additionally, in 2014, UN-Habitat launched Urban October. The entire month is set aside to promote a better urban future. In October 2016, during the HABITAT III Conference, The New Urban Agenda was adopted. The goal is to deal with the challenges of urbanization in the next two decades.

Themes for World Cities Day have included:

2019: Changing the world: innovations and a better life for future generations.
2018: Better City, Better Life.
2017: Innovative Governance, Open Cities
2016: Inclusive Cities, Shared Development
2015: Designed to Live Together
2014: Leading Urban Transformations


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