Urban20: Blueprint of Urban Development in India’s G20 Presidency
Urban20 represents one of the most intriguing attempts to broaden global governance beyond the strict nation-state paradigm and integrate city interests into an established structure of global cooperation. Cities continue to face mounting challenges in accommodating the needs of this rapidly expanding population. The global human population reached 8.0 billion in November 2022 from an estimated 2.5 billion people in 1950, whereas in India itself by 2047, 50 per cent of the population will live in urban areas. This accelerating urbanization brings to the surface simmering issues in the context of Sustainable Development Goals.
India now has the unique opportunity to outline action specific U20 goals to link with the larger objectives of one of the most influential international forums. Consistent with SDG 17 and advancing partnerships among sustainable cities to implement SDG11 which is aiming at making our cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable being measured through a set of 30 indicators. India invited all levels of government, businesses, trade unions, investors, academia, youth movements, and civil society to join us in recognizing the global climate emergency and to help us deliver on science-based actions to overcome it.
Ahmedabad, the Chair city for the sixth U20 cycle, has identified six priorities that are critical for inspiring city-level actions to respond to global agendas:
(1) encouraging environmentally responsible behaviors,
(2) ensuring water security,
(3) accelerating climate finance,
(4) championing local identity,
(5) reinventing frameworks for urban governance and
(6) planning and catalyzing digital urban futures.
India’s U20 prospect set a new balanced template by carefully planning the allocation of urban resources and inspiring sustainable practices comprising different tangents altogether to achieve the consensus of all stakeholders through following priority areas.
Regulation of circular economy: To hasten the implementation of the 4Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover) by creating enabling legal environments, harmonizing standards, and developing risk-sharing and financial assistance instruments and incentives.
Focus on post-Covid urban social and well-being: In a post-pandemic world, U20 2023 can prioritize the role of urban mental health to raise awareness of its significance as a result of an overpowering-built environment. The improvement of overall quality of life and social-emotional well-being must be accounted for in urban amenities.
Emphasizing efficient data and policies: U20 2023 can create a primer for effective data collection, analysis, monitoring, and reporting for timely assessment or urban plans to align with G20 and national agendas. Going further, India must emphasize policies for efficient data use and supporting data governance.
Capacity building and training for city planners: It is also critical to emphasize the significance of the capacity building and training for planners and civic officials regarding the various sensitivities and impacts of urban development plans. India can contribute to global collaboration on increased investment in urban healthcare facilities.
Boosting investment in sustainable energy transition: India already reinforcing direct investment in areas such as sustainable energy and mobility transition. For instance, managing the risks of urban flooding in a changing climate has become a global focus area for policymakers as natural and man-made disasters are frequent.
India's Booming Gig and Platform Economy: As cities, bourgeon, accelerating platformization and skilling have become critical to better prepare for the future of work and jobs for migrants as well. NITI Aayog recommended extending social security measures for gig workers and their families in partnership mode. MNCs are also adopting Flexi-hiring options, especially for niche projects, to reduce operational expenses after the pandemic.
Local participation must be enhanced: Most importantly, U20 2023 ideate to reinforce the importance of local-regional involvement for the integration of perspectives at the national and sub-national government bodies as the way forward. Participative governance embodies the true sense of democracy that is government of the people, by the people for the people. District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DISHA), MyGov portal facilitates participatory governance amongst citizens. Involvement of citizens on these platforms acts as a feedback loop for respective governments to formulate appropriate action plans.
This year U20 in Ahmedabad holds the promise of interconnectedness to bring in an attitudinal change through deliberation, partnerships, dialogues, cooperation, and knowledge-sharing. Ahmedabad became a member of the C40 on 30 June 2022 and has been a member of other global alliances like the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Ahmedabad can lead the way for global response and action by setting the stage for newer partnerships and agreements to facilitate community empowerment and social justice at both the local and societal levels.
By stressing equity, inclusivity, sustainability, green recovery, and resilience by urban stakeholders, India’s U20 presidency will be able to honor its commitment to establishing better cities. By exploring the interlinkages and shared issues related to urban planning, India can help pave the way to bring about a global consensus for renewed urban vigor.