Committed to Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All

In Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC



Concept Note


The 15th Annual Session of
Global Forum on Human Settlements 


Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements
Awards Ceremony 

(GFHS 2020)



Post-Pandemic Recovery and Transformation:
Resilient Cities, Healthy Planet


Date: October 15 - 16, 2020

Online Forum + Webcast

I. Introduction

COVID-19 that is continuing to cause human tragedy, social upheaval and economic turmoil across the globe can be considered as a once-in-a-century ecological security crisis that creates an urgent need for an in-depth reflection on the relationship between human beings and nature. But striking a balance between the two will not be possible unless the root causes - rampant destruction of nature, increasing resources depletion, sprawling cities and human settlements, unabated greenhouse gases emissions, unsustainable consumption and production patterns are rapidly halted.

The international community therefore must heed to the unprecedented wake-up call that COVID-19 has offered to take decisive action to halt destruction of nature and tackle the imminent threats that undermine the health of ecosystems and disrupt the global climate, through combining the post-pandemic recovery of people’s well-being and an aggressive transformation towards sustainability. Thus we shall be able to achieve our vision of a healthy planet upon which all life depends to survive and thrive.

The year 2020 has led the world into a decade of action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the UN calls for a networked and inclusive multilateralism which will not only allow the outpouring of global solidarity to combat Covid-19 crisis, but help overcome the challenges of our current era. 2020 also marks the 15th anniversary of Global Forum on Human Settlements which has been dedicating to make sustainable cities and human settlements for all.

With the COVID-19 being projected to become a new normal, human society will be reshaped. Cities remain as the key battleground to strive for economic growth and sustainable development. But on the pathways towards the future, the first and foremost agenda is to ensure that cities are safer, securer and healthier, that cities become increasingly resilient to pandemic, climate, and various ecological crises, and that cities are closely linked to rural areas and nature to enable interactions in a positive and synergistic way. In the process, Resilient Cities need to be put in a better position to protect and enhance people's lives, secure development gains, foster an investible environment, and drive positive change. Only by maintaining ecological integrity and reinforcing urban resilience can we foresee a future that is safe, inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable.

Against this background, the 15th Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2020) will be organized in a virtual format as an observance of Urban October, with the theme being Post-Pandemic Recovery and Transformation: Resilient Cities, Healthy Planet.

Dignitaries from numerous countries, senior officials from UN and concerned international organizations, mayors of leading cities, leaders of multinational enterprises, and well-known experts and scholars will join the online thematic discussions. In the meantime, webcasting will be available to foster interactive dialogues with all stakeholders across the globe, and is expected to reach out to a much larger number of interested persons.


II. Institutional Framework


Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS)

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

International Science Council (ISC)

In Collaboration With (tbc):

United Nations Economic and Social Commission in Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

World Urban Campaign (WUC)

United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD)

UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI)

Global One Belt One Road Association (GOBA)

Global Blockchain Alliance (GBA)

Quality of Life and Environment Foundation (QLEF)

China Research Society of Urban Development (CRSUD)

International Ocean Institute (IOI)

World Ocean Council (WOC)

Universal Peace Federation (UPF)

World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO)


III. Objectives

The forum will call on the global community to draw lessons from the current pandemic crisis to make the much-needed transformation which is essential to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure health and prosperity for all.

The forum aims to provide a valuable global platform for high-level dialogue and sharing of innovative approaches, strategies, technologies and successful local experiences in promoting ecological integrity and balance, and in building up cities adaptive capacity against all shocks and stresses.

The forum seeks to offer practical solutions to how cities should be planned, designed, financed, developed, governed and managed so as to support a stronger and greener recovery, and enhance safety, resilience and sustainability in diverse urban systems.

In addition, the forum is designed to strengthen capacity building, cultivate new type partnerships, foster urban innovation, accelerate effective actions, and to drive progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and a better future.

IV. Content

The online forum will include an opening address, keynote speech, high-level dialogue, thematic sessions, recommendations and summaries. Simultaneous interpretation between English and Chinese will be provided throughout the online conference. The online conference is being planned to take place on October 15-16. The Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements Awards Ceremony 2020 will fall on the afternoon of October 16 (Central European Time).


V. Scope and Key Issues

The detailed issues to be addressed are as follows:

1.  Preserving and sustainably managing biodiversity and guaranteeing ecological security

2.  Building urban resilience to climate change

3.  Smart, sustainable cities and communities

4.  International Green Model City Initiative: Inclusive, Resilient, and Smart Cities

5.  Integrated climate, hydrology and environment services for sustainable cities

6.  Strategies for fighting epidemics: adaptive buildings and resilient cities

7.   Financing for resilient city infrastructure

8.   Inclusive partnerships towards the city we need

9.   Blockchain technology and smart urban governance

10.   Blue economy and healthy ocean

11. Energy-efficient and sustainable housing

12. Distributed renewable energy


For more information please feel free to contact the secretariat of GFHS 2020:

Please stay tuned to for the updated.