Urban Journalism Institute

Urban Journalism

Understanding local

At the end of 2022, Google revealed how much water its data centres use per year to cool computers all over the world. The data was published after the pressure for transparency on the water rights deal was put on The Dalles city council by The Oregonian, a daily newspaper based in Portland. 

When, in November 2021, The Dalles City Council announced an agreement with Google to provide water to two new data centres, which would be in the area of the existing one, The Oregonian asked the city for public records on the water usage and its impact on the drought-stricken area. 

The Dalles City Council not only refused to provide the numbers, arguing that it was a “trade secret”, but sued the newspaper. After a 13-month legal battle, a settlement between the two parties provided public access to 10 years of data on Google’s water use and resulted in the commitment to keep it available in the future. 

The agreement came a few weeks after Google’s blog post on “climate-conscious” data centre cooling, including the numbers on water usage for 2021. The global data centre fleet consumed well over 15 billion litres of water, with nearly 80 per cent of it in the United States. In the case of The Dalles, the usage was 1.25 billion litres of water in 2021, 29 per cent of the city’s total water consumption, tripling the numbers from a decade earlier.


This is good news for journalism and for citizens. Usually, decisions taken by national, regional, or local governments have a long-term impact on the city’s physical form, its economic sustainability, and social inclusiveness. However, focusing attention on those dynamics requires not only trained journalists and committed media, but also communicators that can deliver effective messages on the positive impact of urban changes in local communities. It means the media, journalists, and communicators need to make an effort to understand how cities are planned, managed, and governed. 

To achieve the goal of making cities and territories sustainable, a commitment is required not only from the government, but there is also a need for a more profound change in reshaping urban narratives and in investing in building a well-informed society in regard to sustainable urban development. Media has a decisive role to play in promoting urban debates at all levels.

This is why the Urban Journalism Institute was founded by OnCities2030. The concept of urban journalism goes beyond those stories focusing on cities or the content produced by local media. It is about journalism specialized in covering the urban dynamics, which define whether a city is sustainable or not, but most importantly, the way in which the city is planned and managed affects the future sustainability of the city and its citizens. 

The Municipal Forecast 2023 aims to provide a glimpse of what local and regional governments, their associations, and networks are focusing on. It offers a different perspective on global trends and encourages media and communicators all over the world to get inspired and search for new narratives to explain and inform citizens about complex, and often not analysed, variables.

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Deep dive into

Conferences, congresses, forums, debates, and workshops have a reputation of being social relations events not worthy of coverage. However, if you are interested in understanding how local and regional governments are contributing to revitalise the multilateral system and bringing the voices of all and for all in the decision-making process, these are the places where you should look for them.

2 March

U7 Mayors Summit

Tokyo (Japan)

6-17 March

67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

New York City (USA)

22-24 March

UN Water Conference

New York City (USA)

26 – 30 April

First Cities Summit of the Americas

Denver (USA)

5-9 June

UN-Habitat Assembly and World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments

Nairobi (Kenya)

12 – 15 June

Brussels Urban Summit UCLG Executive Bureau Metropolis Congress

Brussels (Belgium)

27 – 28 June

Foro Ciudades y Territorios de Paz

Bogota (Colombia)

7-8 July

U20 Mayors Summit

Ahmedabad (India)

12-21 July

HLPF and Local and Regional Governments Forum

New York City (USA)

18 September 

Preparatory ministerial meeting for the Summit of the Future

New York City (USA)

19-20 September 

SDGs Summit and World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments

New York City (USA)

27 November –
1 December

5th UCLG Culture

Dublin (Ireland)

30 November
– 12 December


Dubai (UAE)