- Turkic Council
- Silk Road Cities Alliance
- China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges
- UNDP Turkey
The world is rapidly urbanizing. Already half of the global population – approximately 3.5 billion people – live in cities, with this number is expected to rise to 60 per cent by 2030. Almost 95 per cent of urban expansion over the coming decades will take place in the developing world.
Cities have an important role to play in sustainable development. They are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically. However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity whilst not straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of resources to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, and declining infrastructure. For example:
- 828 million people today live in slums, and this number continues to rise.
- Cities occupy just 3 per cent of Earth’s land, but account for 60 to 80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions.
- Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health.
However, the challenges that cities face can be overcome in ways that allow them to thrive and grow, whilst improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. The high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and technological innovation, and at the same time reducing resource and energy consumption.
Promoting and supporting tourism is one important way through which cities can work towards sustainable development. Amongst other benefits, tourism related activities can bring much needed financial resources, provide incentives to improve infrastructure, provide jobs and training opportunities for local populations, and revive and support traditional activities and customs. Specifically:
- There has been a 4 per cent or higher annual increase in international tourist arrivals since 2006. The sector now accounts for 7 per cent of total world exports and 30 percent of world services exports. In 2015, the total value of exports from international tourism was estimated at US$ 1.5 trillion.
- It is estimated that one in every eleven jobs globally is related to the tourism sector, with almost twice as many women employers as other sectors.
- Tourism is particularly important for developing countries – 57 per cent of international tourist arrivals in 2030 will be in emerging economies.
Many cities, particularly those in the developing world, face similar challenges and have much to learn from each other’s experiences. It is important that the international community create spaces and platforms that facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experiences between cities, and allow for the harmonization of relevant policies and strategies.
The Silk Road Cities Alliance, developed by UNOSSC in partnership with the Government of China, is one such platform. Initiated in 2016, under the umbrella of the Belt and Road Initiative championed by China, the Cities Alliance is designed to promote dialogue between cities and facilitate the building of partnerships for development at the city level. The Cities Alliance seeks to further align its support to the five priority areas of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Antalya, the host city of the 2017 GSSD Expo, is a well-established tourism destination with many lessons and strategies to share. This side event proposes to take advantage of this by bringing together mayors and municipal representatives, under the banner of the Silk Road Cities Alliance, to:
- Discuss the role that tourism can play in supporting sustainable development of cities.
- Share knowledge and experience from participating cities.
- Identify case studies with the potential to be scaled up and transferred between cities, such as the Modern Silk Road Joint Tour Package developed by the Turkic Council.
It is proposed that the side event be organized as a small (approximately 25-30 people) high-level roundtable discussion.
- Ms. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director UNOSSC
- Dr. Ömer Kocaman, Deputy Secretary General, Turkic Council
- Amb. Sudqi Al Omoush (TBC), Deputy Secretary General, Union for the Mediterranean
- Mr. Olzhaz Shintayev, Acting Director of Ontustik Tourism Center under the Entrepreneurship and Tourism Division of the South Kazakhstan Region, Republic of Kazakhstan
- Mr. Uzarbek Zhylkybaev, Government Representative, Issyk Kul Province, Kyrgyz Republic
- Mr. Elkhan Usubov, Head of Executive, Power Sheki, Republic of Azerbaijan
- Mr. Amanbai Kaiypov, Government Representative, Naryn Province, Kyrgyz Republic
- Mr. Mei Xiongrong, Chairman, Yingke Global Board
- Mr. Alperen Erkazanci, Head of Foreign Affairs Department, Antalya Metropolitan Municipality
- Launch of the Silk Road Cities Alliance Specialized Committee on Tourism (tbc)
- Formal welcome of new members of the Silk Road Cities Alliance.
- Agreement to explore replicating the Turkic Council’s Modern Silk Road Joint Tour Package in other similar cities/regions.