Committed to Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All

In Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC

– COP28 Associated Event –
The Eighteenth Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements
Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements Awards Ceremony

(GFHS 2023)

Green, Fair and Smart Urban Transformation: Synergistically Accelerating 1.5°C Goal and SDGs
Date: 3 December 2023  Venue: Dubai, United Arab Emirates


While countries are struggling to recover from the three-year unprecedented shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world remains trapped in multiple emergencies, most notably the climate change, biodiversity loss, social fragmentation, conflict and violence, which leaves the international community a much more arduous journey towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Climate change remains the world’s greatest threat. Heat and extreme weather have become the norm on this planet. The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations  Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) reached a breakthrough agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters. But COP27 should have done more to inspire the level of ambition and commitment required to cut greenhouse emissions. Only if we limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, otherwise, we are heading for a catastrophic future.

Enhancing synergies between the biodiversity and climate agendas is more important than ever. Biodiversity conservation contributes to the fight against climate change, and vice versa. The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity passed the historic Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), a global agreement to address biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems through to 2030. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the agreement showed that “we are finally starting to form a peace pact with nature”.

On an urban planet, the global population has reached 8 billion, with 4.5 billion living in urban areas; cities are the engines for development, innovation and interaction and are on the front line of fulfilling our promises and meeting various challenges. We urgently need to accelerate the transition to green, equitable, smart and sustainable cities. We must continue to improve the way we plan, invest, build, and manage cities, and move towards the city we need through developing innovative governance structures and effectively planning and managing urban space. We need to make the most of the digital revolution and the power of science and technology, shape a future energy system that is clean, smart, equitable and renewable, and make communities and cities greener and smarter.

We need to synergistically accelerate decarbonization and decoupling in cities, promote compact urban forms and nature-positive solutions, provide people-oriented and pedestrian-friendly public spaces, promote green lifestyles, develop zero-carbon and zerowaste buildings, communities, industrial parks and cities, thus promoting the harmonious coexistence between man and nature, strengthening social inclusion and solidarity, and enhancing general prosperity and well-being. We affirm that transformative action by cities will surely scale from the local to the global, making a significant contribution to the delivery of the SDGs and the 1.5°C climate goal.

We are at a halfway point. It has been 7 years since Paris, with 7 years to go to 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals Summit will be held in September 2023, during the United Nations General Assembly high-level week. The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) convened in Dubai from November 30 to December 12. It is against this important backdrop that the Eighteenth Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2023)one of the most important conferences worldwide focusing on sustainable cities and human settlements, is scheduled to take place on December 3rd in Dubai, with the theme being “Green, Fair and Smart Urban Transformation: Synergistically Accelerating 1.5°C Goal and SDGs”.

GFHS 2023 is designed as a follow-up action implementing the consensus of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit and  also was an important part of COP28.

Senior officials from relevant national governments, the United Nations and other international organizations, green city mayors, business leaders, and well-known experts and scholars delivered great insights and inspired discussions. English and Chinese simultaneous interpretation  provided throughout the forum.

GFHS 2023 deliberated on how to harness the historical opportunities in the era of carbon neutrality and the digital economy to accelerate green urban transformation and innovation and strengthen synergies to deal with multiple crises and challenges. The Forum  also delivered an urgent call for substantive actions by cities, industries and businesses to enhance the safety, livability, sustainability, resilience, individuality and vitality of cities, thereby accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda. GFHS 2023 was expected to produce the Dubai Declaration on Green, Fair and Smart Urban Transformation: Synergistically Accelerating 1.5°C Goal and SDGs.

I. Time: 3 December 2023
II. Place: Dubai, UAE
III. Theme: Green, Fair and Smart Urban Transformation: Synergistically Accelerating 1.5°C Goal and SDGs
IV. Modality: Opening ceremony, keynote speech, high-level dialogue, parallel sessions, conclusion and recommendation, awards ceremony, closed-door consultation, study tour

V. Institutional Framework
Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS)
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD)
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

In Collaboration With
United Nations Economic and Social Commission in Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Asian Development Bank (ADB) African Development Bank (AfDB)
World Economic Forum (WEF) World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
ENERGIES 2050 International Ocean Institute (IOI) World Ocean Council (WOC)
International Science Council (ISC) Habitat For Humanity International (HFHI)
Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN)
World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO)
Carbon-Neutral Industry Cooperation Center, China Energy Research Society (CERSCNICC) Dual-Carbon Industry Cooperation Branch, China Energy Research Society (DCICB, CERS)
(This list of organizations is in no particular order)

VI. Objectives
1. To facilitate productive conversation and build consensus: GFHS 2023 aims to provide a valuable global platform for high-level dialogue with stakeholders on innovative approaches, technologies, tools and successful experience in promoting green, fair and smart urban transformation, and build consensus.

2. To generate recommendations for the improvement of policy-making: GFHS 2023 seeks to offer policy guide and practical solutions to how healthy, resilient, smart, nature-positive and carbon-neutral cities should be planned, designed, financed, developed, and managed, so as to enhance safety, resilience, inclusiveness, smartness and sustainability in diverse urban systems. 

3. To produce synergies and maximize the impact of partnership for the SDGs: GFHS 2023 is designed to build synergies, strengthen the capacity building of local governments and relevant stakeholders, enhance public awareness and participation, foster innovation and substantial actions, and forge effective and long-lasting partnerships.

4. To scale up sustainable development actions at the local level: GFHS 2023 will recommend a batch of exemplary and replicable best practices to inspire and influence more cities, companies, organizations and individuals to follow suit, thereby scaling up sustainable development actions at the local level and synergistically speeding up the global race to achieve the SDGs and the climate goals.

VII. Key Topics (included but not limited to)
1. Green, fair and smart urban transformation: policies, technologies and practices
2. Shape the future of energy: clean, smart, equitable and renewable
3. Smart green buildings and vertical farming
4. Early warnings for all to build urban resilience
5. Sustainable waste management for circular economy and zero-waste cities
6. Nature-based solutions for urban resilience and sustainability
7. International Green Model City Initiative towards zero-carbon and zero-waste cities
8. Rural revitalization and sustainable tourism
9. Sustainable oceans and blue economy
10. International youth green ambassador

VIII. Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements Awards Ceremony 2023
Global Forum on Human Settlements  presented the “Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements Awards Ceremony 2023 (SCAHSA 2023)”, as one of the highlights of GFHS 2023 to recognize excellence in sustainable development practices and innovations and promote innovative strategies, technologies and valuable experience. The awards include Global Green City, Global Smart City, Global Human Settlements Award on Planning and Design, Global Human Settlements Outstanding Contribution Award, Global Green Model Community (Building), Global Model of Green Technology, Global Model of Green Economy, Global Model of Ecological Restoration and Protection, among others.

IX. Invited Participants

GFHS 2023 was projected to bring together 300+ participants, including senior officials from the United Nations and other international organizations, senior government representatives and diplomatic envoys, mayors of green cities, business leaders, wellknown experts and scholars, practitioners in relevant industries, representatives of nongovernment organizations, outstanding women and students, among others. 

X. Schedule

08:00-09:00 Registration

09:00-09:45 Opening

10:00-11:00 Keynote Speech

11:05-12:20 High-level Dialogue

12:30-13:30 Lunch Break

13:30-15:00 Parallel Session 1a    Parallel Session 1b

15:10-16:40 Parallel Session 2a   Parallel Session 2b

16:50-17:20 Summary and Recommendation

17:30-18:30 Sustainable Cities And Human Settlements Awards Ceremony

XI. Contact

Ms. Christine Lian He:

Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS):