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International Geneva ‘Geneva Cities Hub’ opens doors

Morning commuters at a subway station in Shanghai, China, in 2011.

Morning commuters at a subway station in Shanghai, China, in 2011. The UN predicts that by 2050 cities will contain as much as 68% of the world's population.

(Keystone / Qilai Shen)

The Swiss authorities have launched a new initiative in Geneva to strengthen ties between cities and city networks around the world and the various international organisations and players based in Switzerland. 

Rather than creating yet another cities network, the aim of the new project is to help facilitate cities’ access to International Geneva, its institutions and experts, the organisers said on Monday at the Geneva launch of the Geneva Cities Hubexternal link

“This is a fundamental new component for International Geneva,” said Sami Kanaan, president of the new association based in the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. 

In 2007, the world's urban population surpassed the world's rural population for the first time in human history. The United Nations forecasts that by 2050 cities will contain 68% of the world's population. 

Governments are important for setting the agenda and laws but cities are key actors in making change happen locally on a host of issues such as climate change.

On the new coronavirus outbreak, for example, decision-making falls to national authorities but the crisis has created various challenges related to social issues and solidarity in cities, said Kanaan. 

The Geneva Cities Hub is supported by the city and canton of Geneva, and the Swiss federal authorities. The new association has an initial budget of CHF350,000 ($366,000) for 2020 and CHF500,000 for 2021. It will be staffed by three people by the end of this year. 

The platform will bring together national and local governments, UN agencies, scientists, NGOs and the private sector around thematic issues. It plans to establish partnerships with UN-Habitat, which is responsible for the World Urban Forum,external link city networks and with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).external link The latter will organize the first Global Mayors’ Forumexternal link next October in Geneva. 

The Geneva Cities Hub will probably plan a "summit of city networks" by the end of the year, added its interim director Kamelia Kemileva.


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