Creating sustainable cities
G20 Summit

Creating sustainable cities

Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, outlines the policies she is driving within the world’s largest city and the Urban 20


With a population reaching 14 million, the Tokyo Metropolis – for which I serve as governor – is the centre of Japanese politics, economy and culture. Since taking office in 2016, I have advanced preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2020 Summer Paralympics, both hosted in Tokyo, and created a post-Games legacy for future generations.

The Paralympic Games in particular are a prime opportunity to transform Tokyo into a more diverse and inclusive city. We are actively advancing efforts to make public facilities barrier-free and improve understanding of people with disabilities through the promotion of parasports and other efforts.

Taking the opportunity presented by the Tokyo 2020 Games, we will also accelerate the creation of an eco-friendly sustainable city. To pursue our goal of a zero-emission Tokyo, we are emphasising efforts such as reducing carbon emissions from buildings and increasing the use of zero-emission vehicles. In addition, we are simultaneously advancing measures to enhance disaster resilience, extend the lifespan of our infrastructure, expand childcare services, promote the participation of women in society, attract international tourists and realise a global financial city, among other measures.

Meanwhile, the policies of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government are not aimed at Tokyo’s development alone. They will also contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Urbanisation is progressing throughout the world. The world’s population and economic potential will likely continue to concentrate in cities. In such circumstances, the role and responsibility of cities in resolving global challenges such as climate change and social inclusion will only grow.

Based on this awareness, the Urban 20 is an initiative launched in 2017 with an eye to having the opinions and experiences of cities reflected in the discussions of the G20. The U20 includes G20 member capitals, such as Tokyo, and many other cities. Currently, 27 cities participate in the initiative.

In 2018, the U20 achieved great success. I would like to thank the mayors of Buenos Aires and Paris, who established the U20, as well as express my gratitude to C40 Cities and United Cities and Local Governments, which convened the Urban 20.

U20 Activities in 2019

The second U20 Mayors Summit, held in Tokyo on 20 – 22 May, was attended by mayors and governors of the world’s major cities, including G20 member capital cities. Building on last year’s outcomes, as chair of this year’s U20 I selected three main themes for the summit: climate action, social inclusion and integration, and sustainable economic growth.

The U20 produced a communiqué containing the matters that G20 members should tackle together with cities. It was adopted and delivered to the G20 presidency. I believe that we were able to present an opinion to the G20 that concentrates the wisdom of cities on promoting decarbonisation, conserving energy, taking other measures to address climate change, recycling including action to reduce plastic waste, and creating an inclusive society where all residents, including senior citizens, people with disabilities and women, can actively participate.

Such a city would help realise Society 5.0, which aims for both economic growth and the resolution of urban challenges, through the use of advanced technologies.

Expectations for the G20 Osaka Summit

For mayors and governors – who as city leaders are in closer contact with residents than national government leaders and high-level ministers – the issues taken up by the U20 are less political issues than they are pressing daily realities.
To respond to global challenges, cooperation that transcends international borders and, domestically, cooperation that transcends the levels of national and local government, are both vital now.

I would like to ask the G20 leaders at their 2019 Osaka Summit to listen earnestly to the voices of cities represented by the U20. I hope that the G20 leaders will coordinate with leaders from all cities and show the world a strong approach to tackling the global challenges we all face.