World Cities Day: Placemaking in China

World Cities Day was conceived by the United Nations after first being proposed at the Shanghai International Expo in 2010. The initiative, which is celebrated annually on 31 October, runs under the powerful slogan, ‘Better City, Better Life’ which aims to raise awareness of the challenges of increasing urbanisation.

Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, with the number expected to double by 2050. And so, the need for our cities to adapt and respond to the increasing social and environmental impacts is magnified. In China, improvements are needed in providing sanitary living spaces and quality air, implementing new transport infrastructure as well as smart city technologies. However, our work and research into placemaking has shown us that it is equally important that the history and character of China’s great cities are not lost in the process for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities

JWDK has been working with the Shanghai Coordination Centre of World Cities Day to develop the brand of World Cities Day in Shanghai, its birthplace, for the last two years. Named as official public partners, JWDK has one goal in mind — to deliver the importance of the WCD message to the people of Shanghai. We want to not only show how the government rapidly continues to adapt and improve our shared urban spaces, but also encourage people to take their own positive action to improve local neighbourhoods, park-life, offices and home.

In 2018, we designed a visual icon to express the meaning of “Better City, Better Life”. The symbol is formed by two hands joining as a ‘W’ shape. W stands for ‘We’ as an expression of ‘Creating a Better City and a Better Life together’. 

Changing the World: Innovations and Better Life for the Future Generations

This year, the theme is centred on innovation as one of the most effective ways of solving problems and challenges set by rapid urbanisation. It covers a broad range of topics including urban economic innovation as well as social, cultural, institutional, planning and cooperation innovation. The 2019 theme will celebrate the development of innovative cities from resource and factory-dependent development to knowledge and technology-driven development.

We are proud to launch a colourful set of illustrative posters that demonstrate China’s fantastic advancements in waste management and recycling, the incredible high-speed railway network and the eco-friendly use of human powered vehicles, and the amazing AI technology that supports our construction industry to reduce waste, pollution and improve health and safety.

World Cities Day is a celebration of what Shanghai, China and the world, has already achieved, as well as giving positive hope to the future users of our cities, our children. We are delighted to contribute to placemaking in China and are proud to be official public partners of this great initiative. 

[This article has been adapted and extended from the original speech given by JWDK CEO Kirsten Johnston at the official launch of WCD publicity activities on 29.9.2019]