Opening Remarks by Mr James George at the Global Observance of World Cities Day 2022, Shanghai

Urban Green Transition and Development Forum

November 3, 2022

Mr James George, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP China, delivers opening remarks at the Global Observance of World Cities Day 2022



Deputy Secretary General of Shanghai Municipal Government, Ms. Shang Yuying

Former Executive Director of UN Environment, Mr. Erik Solheim,

Deputy Director General of Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, Mr. Wang Wei

And thank you, the chair of the session, Director General of Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Ecology and Environment, Mr. Cheng Peng.

Distinguished guests,

A very good afternoon!

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, I am delighted to join you the Urban Green Transition and Development Forum marking World Cities Day!

I do regret that I could not join you in person but send my warmest regards and solidarity with the people of Shanghai and the participants of this forum.  

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the urban century.

Today, half of us live in cities.

By 2050, 70% of all humanity – 6.5 billion people – will be calling cities - our home.

Throughout history and passage of time, the call of the cities represented a vision of hope, opportunity and endless possibilities.   

Millions have benefitted from this transition from rural to urban areas.

Experiencing improved access to services, jobs and better living conditions.

Indeed, cities are thriving hubs for culture, economic vitality and innovation.

Unfortunately, cities also now consume 78 percent of the world’s energy and produces more than 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and are pollution hotspots.

As cities expand, taking over vast swathes of land and diverse natural environments, they also contribute to significant nature loss and ecosystem destruction.

We cannot let human progress and the world we leave our future generations to come at the cost of our climate, biodiversity, air, water and soil.

As the IPCC forecasts global warming of 1.5°C by 2040, it is more urgent than ever that cities develop sustainably and help address climate and ecological challenges.

At COP15 in Montreal this December, the international community will deliberate on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework – a vital step towards implementing broad-based action to transform society’s relationship with nature over the next decade.

Incorporating biodiversity and nature into urban design is a crucial part of this vision, and essential for building the sustainable, equitable cities of the future.

I am pleased to inform you that UNDP is working closely with key partners and stakeholders in moving this agenda forward.

For example, UNDP’s global BIOFIN initiative aims to multiply resources for conservation efforts and improve their effectiveness.

As a BIOFIN pilot city, Shanghai has made significant progress in mobilizing efforts towards protecting nature.  Let me share three key highlights.

Firstly, we welcome the clear emphasis on biodiversity added in the newly issued green finance regulations in Shanghai’s Pudong District.

Secondly, I am pleased to inform you that a report will be released today detailing the policy and practice drivers of biodiversity changes, including an analysis of the key actors and institutions and their relationship to biodiversity drivers and biodiversity finance.

And finally, work has begun on developing a finance plan to boost nature-positive investments in transportation and urbanization, using nature-based solutions to create green public spaces and bringing nature into urban planning.

We truly welcome Shanghai’s efforts on addressing both biodiversity loss and climate change.

Let me close by saying:

Shanghai has made impressive achievement in decarbonization and e-mobility in the transportation sector.

Shanghai has also made strong progress in implementing zero waste and circular economy initiatives and green finance.

And Shanghai has enormous potential to advance biodiversity friendly, low carbon and inclusive growth.

But we can do much more together.

To meet these ambitious goals, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with government partners and local institutions to spur innovation on these critical areas as we make our cities, inclusive, green, resilient and sustainable.

Together, lets stand shoulder to shoulder and turn our visions, ambitions into action!

Together let’s build on the progress that we have made on advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in our cities and chart a sustainable course forward for people and planet.

Thank you!