The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has heightened the global recognition of shared responsibility in ensuring a green and democratic recovery for a more sustainable future. Representatives of cities and their constituencies are calling for acknowledgement of their role in ensuring an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient recovery.
Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) met on the sidelines of the 2021 edition of the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to: celebrate Local and Regional Governments’ Day; highlight their contributions to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 (good health and well-being) and discuss the path towards the Local Common Agenda, which summarizes the future that LRGs envision in 2045.
During the opening session, participants observed a moment of silence to mourn the passing of Geoff Makhubo, Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, due to COVID-19. Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), summarized the history of the UCLG in pursuing localization since 2015, noting that failure is not an option. Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan, Russian Federation, noted local governments provide needed services so they must be the focus of pandemic recovery efforts.
Mami Mizutori, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, described the Making Cities Resilient 2030 roadmap that provides tools, access to knowledge, and support for monitoring and reporting to help cities reduce risk and build resilience.
Findings of the Global Taskforce’s Annual Report "Towards the Localization of the SDGs”
This session focussed on contributions of LRGs to SDG 3. Participants also discussed the findings of the Global Taskforce’s Annual Report, titled “Towards the Localization of the SDGs.”
Lucy Slack, acting Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, summarized recommendations of the report noting the need for:
- effective implementation and localization of the SDGs;
- bottom-up monitoring and localized indicators fed with disaggregated data; and
- LRG voices in voluntary national reporting processes.
Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General, Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), moderated the panel. Discussants included:
- Almudena Maíllo del Valle, Councillor-President, Moratalaz, Spain, who reported on SDG implementation capacity-building projects with Mexico City and Buenos Aires;
- Pablo Jurado, President, Consortium of Provincial Autonomy (CONGOPE), Ecuador, who highlighted CONGOPE’s support in ensuring availability of COVID testing kits and vaccination programmes;
- Jean-Marc Yacé, Mayor, Cocody, Côte d'Ivoire, who reported that conspiracy theories are hampering management of the pandemic and vaccination;
- Gunn Marit Helgesen, President, Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, who said sub-national reports are important to support the voices of LRGs; and
- Valérie Dumontet, Vice-president, Aude Department, France, who shared proposals for dynamic cooperation through tool kits and shared experiences in order to implement the SDGs.
Partnerships to Accelerate the Localization of the Global Agendas
Emilia Saiz moderated this segment, during which speakers discussed partnerships for localizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and advancing sustainable urban development.
- Eugenie Birch, President, General Assembly of Partners for Habitat III, who focused on the importance of vertical and horizontal integration and productive formal and informal dialogue;
- Thomas George, UN Children's Agency (UNICEF), who described UNICEF’s work in support of children, particularly migrant children and children living in informal settlements;
- Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk, Belgium, who highlighted the SDGs as a framework for new partnerships, in various categories, to accelerate SDG action plans;
- Hannes Juhlin Lagrelius, World Blind Union, who urged accessibility for all for climate resilience;
- Lorena Zárate, President, Habitat International Coalition, who reported on the Global Platform for the Right to the City and called for radical transformation for global pandemic recovery;
- Julian Pfaefflin, International Organization for Migration, reporting on the UN Network for Migration’s work on SDG 10.7, on migration and mobility; and
- Andy Deacon, Acting Managing Director, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, on his organization’s engagement with partners, including UCLG, on the “race to resilience” and “race to zero” campaigns for UNFCCC COP 26.
Looking Ahead Towards the Local Common Agenda
This session discussed day-to-day activities of LRGs in building on the future they envision by 2045.
Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary-General, UCLGA, Morocco, moderated this session. Presenters discussed ways in which their constituencies are putting people at the center of sustainable development and delivering basic needs and access to public services.
Victoria Alsina-Burgues, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catalonia, highlighted the Catalonia 2030 Alliance, aimed at promoting joint initiatives for meeting the SDGs.
Goshtasb Mozafari, Secretary General of the Asian Mayors Forum (AMF), said confronting national disasters requires synergies at all levels, calling for more opportunities for LGR involvement in global policies.
Mariana Cammisa, Buenos Aires City Government, Argentina, highlighted her city’s climate action plan aligned to the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.
Kasan Kilca, Mayor, Karatay, Turkey, presented public services including garbage collection, public transportation and facilities for people with disabilities.
Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor, Kitchener, Croatia, acknowledged the growing recognition by the UN on the role of cities and LRGs in achieving the SDGs.
In closing, Lucy Slack said the meeting highlighted the significant value gained by working together and underscored that LRGs are starting to come into their own as recognized partners for achieving the SDGs.
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