The world is becoming increasingly urbanized. Since 2007, more than half the world’s population has lived in cities. That number is projected to climb to 68% by 2050, leaving no doubt that the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be determined in these parts of the world. COVID-19 hit cities particularly hard, exposing key challenges faced by them. Due to the unprecedented spread of the virus, cities have been on the frontline of coping with the pandemic and its lasting impacts. The targets outlined in SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, such as access to safe, adequate and affordable housing, prove to be critical now more than ever before.
To address these persisting issues, UNACTO hosted a panel of thought leaders, innovators and academic researchers on 4 February, 2021, to hear their insights and expertise on the city's approach to urban planning, affordable housing and sustainable living.
Toronto mayor John Tory made a special appearance to talk about the importance of working toward building a sustainable Toronto.
“Whether it’s related to transit expansion, affordable housing or water quality, building a sustainable Toronto was very much a focus before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has heightened our sense of the gaps in our city that ended up affecting people the most. The more marginalized you were—or you are—the more you were affected. It also highlighted the degree to which economic, social and environmental sustainability are so intertwined.”
—John Tory, Mayor of Toronto
Rochelle Byrne, Founder of A Greener Future
Roya Khaleeli, Director of Sustainability & Innovation with Minto Group
Susan McGeachie, Global Director of Climate Change & Sustainability Services
Matti Siemiatycki, Professor from the University of Toronto Department of Geography & Planning
Candice Batista, Environmental Journalist
Sustainable Housing in Toronto
Ahead of the event, we spoke with Jennifer Keesmaat, an urban planner who spent five years as Toronto’s Chief City Planner. She provided insight into how Toronto could tackle challenges when it comes to affordable housing.