Nelson Mandela helped launch Cities Alliance in 1999 and was the Patron of the Cities Alliance 'Cities Without Slums' Action Plan


Cities Alliance Marks Nelson Mandela Day


International Nelson Mandela Day was established in 2009 in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. The day recognizes Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity in: conflict resolution; race relations; promotion and protection of human rights; reconciliation; gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups; the fight against poverty; and the promotion of social justice. 

This day holds special value to Cities Alliance, as Nelson Mandela played an integral part in its founding. In 1999, President Mandela travelled to Berlin to launch the Cities Alliance’s Cities Without Slums Action Plan, which was drafted by founding members World Bank and UN-Habitat, and of which he was the Patron. With his enormous international stature, and his identification with justice, human rights and the cause of the marginalized, President Mandela drew international attention to urban poverty, and the plight of the hundreds of millions of slum-dwellers all over the world.

Through his intervention, the goal of significantly improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers - originally an internal target for the Cities Alliance – was incorporated into the Millennium Assembly in 2000 and, subsequently, became a target within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Through President Mandela, the challenges and opportunities of urbanization, the growth of slums, and the marginalization of millions of poor people received international recognition for the first time. Addressing Cities Alliance members, he said: 

 Poverty reduction and upgrading of informal settlements will not be possible unless cities are productive and efficient, and capable of providing the poor with economic opportunities to build their assets and incomes.


This year, coinciding with the date of the Nelson Mandela International Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at 9:00 a.m. EDT (18 July).

In his speech, "Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era," the Secretary-General takes aim at the various layers of inequality that are being exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about it here.


News Info