World Cities Day 2023: LDIW in panel discussion "From Waste to Wealth".

Written by
Jim Sharman
November 9, 2023

World Cities Day’ is one of the many events on the UN Calendar of International Weeks and Days. Falling on 31 October, and concluding UN-Habitat’s ‘Urban October’ program, everyone interested in sustainable urbanization, from national and local governments to universities, NGOs, and communities, is encouraged to hold or participate in activities, events, and discussions. It is an opportunity to be part of the conversation about challenges created by the fast rate of change in cities.

Taking place in a different city each year, the 2023 event was celebrated in Istanbul, Türkiye, carrying the theme, ‘Financing sustainable urban future for all’ and exploring how to unlock transformative investment in urban planning. UN-Habitat, through its Waste Wise Cities and African Clean Cities Platform programmes, is increasingly working with national and local governments to develop business models and facilitate financial investments to shift towards circular and zero-waste economies.

The significance of World Cities Day 2023 taking place in Istanbul lies in the fact that, in 2022, the UN adopted a resolution to proclaim 30 March as ‘International Zero Waste Day’, inspired by the Zero Waste Project launched under the auspices of first lady Emine Erdoğan in 2017 which highlighted the importance of eliminating waste in fighting the climate crisis. Türkiye had put forward the original resolution and were therefore thrilled to be hosting World Cities Day 2023.

Let’s Do It World’s President & Head of Global Network, Heidi Solba, had been invited by UN-Habitat to represent the LDIW movement by participating in a high-level panel discussion called, ‘From Waste to Wealth’, featuring a distinguished list of international experts on topics such as the circular economy.

Building on the global attention on the transition to a circular economy, the panel discussed the strategies national and local governments can adopt to move towards a circular economy through sustainable operational finance and shift towards a circular economy. It also explored how cities can collaborate with industries to promote circularity and zero waste, while simultaneously ensuring that people who depend on the waste value chain for their livelihoods, particularly vulnerable groups such as waste workers, benefit from the transition.

During the discussion, Heidi emphasized, “Cleanups are not the solution – and we are not a cleanup organization. We want to change the world and we know that the moment when we have a critical mass of people engaged, we can make societal shift happen. We are catalyzing cross-sector cooperation and witnessing this change – LDIW, globally, demonstrates the power to work together beyond borders to clear up waste and pollution. And education is a huge part of systemic change, so it’s really important to have waste management on school curricula. Let’s work on awareness, let’s work on behavioral change and let’s collaborate.”

World Cities Day also provided a wonderful opportunity for Heidi to catch up with Cengiz Kasak, Let’s Do It Türkiye’s leader. Cengiz said, “I had the privilege of attending the UN Habitat World Cities Day event in Istanbul, where numerous organizations converged with a shared commitment to shaping sustainable and vibrant urban spaces. It was truly inspiring to witness the collective dedication towards building a better future for our cities. During the event, Heidi delivered an impactful speech at one of the roundtables, highlighting our organization's unwavering commitment to global sustainability. I'm excited to collaborate with these incredible partners as we continue our mission to create cleaner and more liveable communities through Let's Do It Türkiye.”

Heidi Solba (l) and Cezig Kasak (r) at World Cities Day 31.10.2023

Further details on the ‘Waste to Wealth’ discussion, and the full list of panelists with whom Heidi appeared, can be viewed here and you can watch a recording of the entire discussion here. (We apologize for the issues with volume. Unfortunately, this was outside of our control.)

Next year’s World Cities Day will take place in Dubai, the hosts of this year’s COP28 Climate Change Conference, at which Let’s Do It World will also be present. We will bring you more news on that soon!

Our participation at this event was supported by KÜSK, the National Foundation of Civil Society in Estonia.

Two WCDs combined in Istanbul recently, as World Cleanup Day was invited to World Cities Day and Heidi Solba spoke on a high-level panel discussion. Read more here.
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