[2013] International Symposium on Sustainable Cities: Empowering Local Governments through Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing


Cities are crucial to delivering practical results that will defeat poverty, protect the natural environment and improve disaster risk reduction and resilience. In response to the outcome document of Rio+20, the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) will contribute in better understanding of issues and challenges confront urbanization planning and development, as well as of strategies for fostering sustainable cities. This symposium will specifically focus on issues related to provision of social services as a means of achieving poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods. It will also address cross cutting issues such as institutional strengthening, governance and gender. 

Main objective of the Int’l Symposium is to strengthen the institutional and technical capacities of local governments in developing and implementing programmes and strategies which will enable our cities to cope with the urbanization challenge of 21st century in a sustainable manner. Towards this aim, the symposium will focus on: 1) Dissemination and sharing of good practices and lessons learned about how to foster more sustainable cities. 2) Assessment of critical areas in which further capacity building and knowledge sharing are needed by the local governments, including strategies to meet those knowledge and capacity gaps. 3) Identification of innovative financing models and arrangements for developing and sustaining urban infrastructure.



Concept Note



Formal Opening

Opening remarks:

Mr. Jong-Soo Yoon (Head of Office, UN Office for Sustainable Development)

Congratulatory remarks:

Mr. Gyu-Seok Baek (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea)

Welcoming remarks from Mr. Young-gil Song, Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City:

Mr. Song-Jun Ohm (Ambassador, International Relations, Incheon Metropolitan City)

Opening remarks: Framing the Sustainable Urbanization Agenda in the Post-2015 Development Framework

Mr. Ralph Wahnschafft (Senior Economic Affairs Officer, UN DESA)

Keynote address: Integrated Planning Approaches for Sustainable Cities

Dr. Kala Vairavamoorthy (Professor, University of South Florida)


Day 1 (September 26, 2013)

Session 1: Provision of Adequate and Safe Drinking Water

Chairman: Dr. Sudhir Krishna (Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, India)

Panel discussion


Session 2: Provision of Sanitation Services and Managing Wastewater for Urban Health

Chairman: Mr. Jong-Soo Yoon (Head of Office, UNOSD)


Day 2 (September 27, 2013)

Session 3: Powering Urban Economic Growth through Low-Carbon Cities

Chairman: Mr. Mohan Peck (UN Consultant)


Session 4: Promoting Green, Pro-poor Urban Transport

Chairman: Mr. Ralph Wahnschafft (Senior Economic Affairs Officer, UN DESA)


Day 3 (September 28, 2013)

Plenary 1:

  • Keynote Address 1: Mr. Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, ICLEI
  • Keynote Address 2: Mr. Ralph Wahnschafft, UN DESA
  • Keynote Address 3: Mr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna, UN ESCAP
  • Keynote Address 4: Mr. Alfredo Arquillano, UN ISDR

Case Studies by Cities:

  • Case Study 1: Mr. Kenji Kitahashi (Mayor, Kitakyushu, Japan)
  • Case Study 2: Ms. Emily Jean Gabel (Mayor, Burbank, California, USA)
  • Case Study 3: Mr. Jinhua Pang (Vice Secretary, Tianjin City Government, China)
  • Case Study 4: Mr. Michael Walter Paris (Deputy Mayor, Frankfurt, Germany)
  • Case Study 5: Mr. Young-gil Song (Mayor, Incheon Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea)


Session 5: Addressing Poverty through Slum Upgrading

Chairman: Mr. Mohan Peck (UN Consultant)


Plenary 2: 
Mr. Mohan Peck (UN Consultant)

  • Panel discussion: Making a transition towards sustainable cities in resource scarce economies


Formal Closing

Closing Remarks:

Mr. Jong-Soo Yoon (Head of Office, UNOSD)



Participant List

Issues Paper



You can find meeting pictures here.