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Summary report, 9–13 July 2021

HLPF 2021 Local and Regional Governments’ Day and Forum

The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has heightened the global recognition of shared responsibility in ensuring a green, inclusive, and democratic recovery for a more sustainable future.  Local and regional governments (LRGs) are an essential part of sustainable development in their communities as they are agents of social inclusion, economic growth, and public services essential for the well-being of local communities. In the context of building back better from the pandemic, LRGs are recognized as the backbone of bottom-up solutions to major global crises, including COVID-19 and the triple planetary crises of climate, biodiversity, and pollution.

Over the years, LRGs have gained a voice and a seat at the table in UN processes to express their concerns and seek recognition of their role in promoting on-the-ground actions for socially, economically, and environmentally resilient societies. Despite this, many gaps continue to hinder their effective involvement in the global development agenda, including limited financial resources and data.

For these reasons, the Global Taskforce of LRGs has been convening LRG Forums since 2018 with mayors, city council leaders, and other local authorities to highlight progress made and advance a common agenda and voice with respect to their role, through local actions for sustainable and resilient societies.LRG Day and the fourth LRG Forum convened on the sidelines of the 2021 edition of the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

LRG Day, which convened on 9 July and was organized by the Global Taskforce of LRGs, provided an opportunity for exchange and dialogue among LRGs and with key UN partners and other constituencies. Participants discussed, among others, ways to support the Local Common Agenda, summarized in the “Visioning Report UN75: The Role of Local and Regional Governments in the Future Global Governance of the International System,” which was presented at the UN’s 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2020.

Participants also discussed the fifth Global Taskforce of LRGs report, “Towards the Localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” They noted, inter alia, the social and health impacts of the pandemic on marginalized and vulnerable people in society, including pushing the poor further into extreme poverty, and the loss of lives and livelihoods. The report calls for enhancing and supporting bottom-up monitoring and localization of SDG indicators; LRG voices in Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs); and global cooperation through multilateralism. The report also emphasizes the need for support for LRGs to submit their own Voluntary Local Reports (VLRs).

The LRG Forum, which met from 12-13 July, met under the theme “Fostering a Recovery that Is Resilient and Led by the Communities.” It was convened jointly by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the Global Taskforce of LRGs, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and Local 2030.The event illustrated the importance of localizing action and partnerships among spheres of governments and stakeholders towards achieving the SDGs under review by HLPF 2021. Four panel sessions addressed:

  • Universal Health Coverage and Well Being; 
  • Social Inclusion and Prosperity from the Ground Up; 
  • Transformation of Work and Evolving Production and Consumption Models; and 
  • Multilevel Governance and Strong, Inclusive Institutions.

Some of the Forum’s key messages highlighted the role of LRGs in ensuing resilient, inclusive, and sustainable cities, while providing basic public services. Participants further stressed the role of inclusive institutions at the subnational level, and the need to ensure adequate resources, data, and capacity for LRGs to ensure successful localization of the SDGs. Participants also discussed the joint LRG statement to HLPF 2021, which included calls to:

  • strengthen health services and universal vaccinations;
  • include LRGs in recovery packages for a safe green and just recovery;
  • recognize the essential role of culture for recovery and power for social justice;
  • recognize the local agenda as a response to recovery and to achieve the SDGs; and
  • recognize the critical role of migration to economies and linkages between climate change and human mobility.

LRG Day and the LRG Forum took place virtually due to the continued health and safety measures in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meetings were organized by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).

A Brief History of the LRG Forum

First LRG Forum: The first LRG Forum met on 16 July 2018, on the sidelines of HLPF 2018, in New York, US, to discuss LRG engagement in the preparation of VNRs and integrated territorial planning to achieve the SDGs. The Forum also promoted VLRs for city and regional levels that include the development of accountability mechanisms.

Second LRG Forum: The second edition of the Forum convened on 24 September 2019, in New York, during the SDG Summit. The Forum considered the theme, “Connecting global ambition and local action.” It included sessions on: triggering the transformation needed to address the climate challenge; good practices and experiences on implementing the 2030 Agenda at the local level; and commitments for accelerated SDG implementation.

Third LRG Forum: The third Forum took place virtually on 13 July 2020 on the sidelines of HLPF 2020. The event focused on the theme “The Decade of Action – bolstering change from the ground-up.” It also highlighted LRG actions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers emphasized the importance of multilevel governance, sound local finances, decentralized cooperation, and territorial cohesion in the post-COVID-19 era. 

Report of LRG Day

LRG Day, which preceded the fourth LRG Forum, was convened by the Global Taskforce of LRGs on 9 July 2021. The meeting focused on the contributions of local governments to SDG 3 (good health and well-being). Participants discussed ways to support the Local Common Agenda, summarized in the “Visioning Report UN75: The Role of LRGs in the Future Global Governance of the International System,” which was presented at the UN’s 75th Anniversary celebrations in 2020. The findings of the annual Global Taskforce report, “Towards the Localization of the SDGs,” were also presented.

Opening Segment

Emilia Saiz, Secretary General, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), opened the meeting, calling for a moment of silence for Geoff Makhubo, Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, who passed away from COVID-19. She summarized the history of the UCLG in pursuing localization of the SDGs since 2015, saying failure is not an option.

Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan, Russian Federation, noted LRGs provide needed services and, as such, must be the focus of pandemic recovery packages. He called for strengthening participation of LRGs in VNRs. He said an updated UN system should include local authorities at all stages to ensure their participation in the New Urban Agenda (NUA), adopted in 2016 at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will be urban, so cities are key for achieving the SDGs, the NUA, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. She described a Making Cities Resilient 2030 campaign, which provides tools, knowledge-sharing, and monitoring and reporting support to help cities reduce risk and build resilience. She invite everyone to join the campaign.

Findings of the Global Taskforce’s Annual Report “Towards the Localization of the SDGs”

This session focused on the report of the Global Taskforce, which highlights actions of LRGs in ensuring an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery. The session also addressed contributions of LRGs to SDG 3 (good health and well-being).

During introductory remarks, Lucy Slack, acting Secretary-General of Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF), reported the pandemic has pushed 120 million people into poverty and increased social inequality.  She called for multi-level governance to ensure building back better. She stressed the importance of LRGs for social equality. She urged national governments to consider the report’s recommendations, including the need for:

  • effective implementation and localization of the SDGs;
  • bottom-up monitoring and localized indicators supported by disaggregated data;
  • LRG voices in voluntary national reporting processes; and
  • global cooperation through a renewed and reinforced multilateral system.

The panel discussion was moderated by Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General, Council of European Municipalities and Regions.

Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General, UCLG Asia-Pacific, highlighted the impact of the pandemic on governance, finances, and actions on SDGs. She reported on Indonesia’s first VLR, which recommends, among others, strengthening multilevel and cross-sectoral governance, and upscaling information and communications technology (ICT) to improve transparency in SDG implementation. She called for focusing on renewable energy, creation of green jobs, and social protection in pandemic recovery packages.

Almudena Maíllo del Valle, Councillor-President of Moratalaz, Spain, highlighted support for local government initiatives on sustainability. She reported on a project with Mexico City and Buenos Aires for capacity building for SDG implementation. Future strategic plans, she concluded, should support building safer and more sustainable cities.

Pablo Jurado, President, Consortium of Provincial Autonomous Governments of Ecuador, said LRGs are key to strengthening a fair, sustainable and green recovery and for monitoring SDG implementation. He discussed initiatives to ensure availability of COVID testing kits and vaccination programmes.

Jean-Marc Yace, Mayor of Cocody, Côte d’Ivoire, highlighted awareness campaigns to educate populations on the realities of COVID-19. He reported challenges due to conspiracy theories that hamper management of the pandemic and vaccination efforts.

Gunn Marit Helgesen, President, Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, highlighted that VLRs are an opportunity to showcase Norwegian local governance in SDG implementation. She said sub-national reports are important to give voice to LRGs. She advocated for a whole-of-government approach. LRGs, she said, have proven their ability to deliver and governments should now show trust and support them.

Valérie Dumontet, Vice-President, Aude Department, France, reported the use of UCLG modules in training through a combination of a theoretical approach and field-based actions. She noted proposals for dynamic cooperation through tool kits and shared experiences 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 and advancing sustainable urban development.

Eugenie Birch, President, General Assembly of Partners for Habitat III, noted a high percentage of SDG targets must be implemented locally and, thus, local citizens must be engaged so they fully understand the issues. She stressed multistakeholder partnerships, including vertical and horizontal integration and productive formal and informal dialogue. She underscored the need to ascertain provenance and quality of data.

Thomas George, UN Children’s Agency (UNICEF), described UNICEF’s work supporting children, particularly migrant children and children living in informal settlements and slums. He said UNICEF is updating its data on pollutants, water, sanitation, disaster risk, and urban governance, as well as strengthening its partnership with UCLG in areas such as capacity building for disaggregating urban data, planning, budgeting, and knowledge management.

Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk, Belgium, noted that numerous local governments have integrated the NUA into their municipal policies and plans, highlighting the SDGs as a framework for new partnerships through city-to-city cooperation, town twinning, public-private partnerships (PPPs), and civil society interactions.

Hannes Juhlin Lagrelius, World Blind Union, said resilience that does not include accessibility for disabled people is not really resilience. He said the pandemic has brought attention to structural inequalities and inaccessibilities, including with respect to ICT, putting people at risk. He called for involving vulnerable groups in governance to design accessible systems that work for everyone.

Lorena Zárate, President, Habitat International Coalition, reported on the Global Platform for the Right to the City. She called for all institutions and civil society organizations to implement the Right to the City, the SDGs, and the NUA. She urged aligning these global agendas, integrating territorial and human rights approaches, and focusing on vulnerable communities. She called for building back more caring cities to address COVID-19 and a radical transformation.

Julian Pfaefflin, International Organization for Migration, reported on the UN Network for Migration’s work on SDG target 10.7, on migration and mobility, and commended the Global Taskforce’s report for its strong statement on migration. He highlighted links between the Global Compact on Migration and the 2030 Agenda and the role of LRGs in the Compact’s implementation. He underscored the Mayors for Migration Council’s Call to Action for an inclusive response to COVID-19, including for urban migrants, refugees, and displaced people.

Andy Deacon, Acting Managing Director, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), reported on his organization’s engagement with UCLG and other partners on the “race to resilience” and “race to zero” campaigns for the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26), pledging support for climate action at all levels. He highlighted his organization’s new work to integrate energy access and energy poverty into GCoM reporting, with a globally harmonized city reporting standard.

Chris Williams, Director, New York City Office, UN-Habitat, gave a progress report on the UN Task Force on the Future of Cities, which was established by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in 2020. He summarized ways for UN entities and their governing bodies to engage with LRGs, including on the NUA, and stressed the importance of having LRG representatives on national delegations.

Looking Ahead Towards the Local Common Agenda

This session discussed day-to-day LRG activities in developing the Visioning Report on the future LRGs envision by 2045.

Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary-General, UCLG Africa, 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, Spain, stressed the need for transparency, PPPs, and support from civil society to rebuild better from the pandemic. She highlighted the Catalonia 2030 Alliance, aimed at promoting joint initiatives for achieving the SDGs.

Goshtasb Mozaffari, Secretary General, Asian Mayors Forum, said confronting national disasters requires synergies at all levels, calling for more opportunities for LGR involvement in global policies. He further proposed official recognition of the role of LRGs in sustainable development.

Mariana Cammisa, Buenos Aires City Government, Argentina, announced that her city presented its third VLR at HLPF 2021 and has developed a climate action plan aligned to the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. She highlighted the importance of PPPs in dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic.

Kasan Kilca, Mayor, Karatay, Turkey, reported on the establishment of a directorate of foreign relations to manage the large number of refugees in Karatay from neighboring countries. He discussed his city’s public services aligned to the SDGs, including waste recycling, public transportation, and centers for persons with Alzheimer’s and physical disabilities. 

Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor, Kitchener, Croatia, acknowledged the growing recognition by the UN of the role of cities and LRGs in achieving the SDGs. LRGs, he said, now have a seat at the table in UN processes to advance localization of sustainable development.

Closing Segment

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.

Report of the LRG Forum

The fourth LRG Forum took place from 12-13 July 2021, under the theme, “Fostering a recovery that is resilient and led by the communities.” The Forum was facilitated by Emilia Saiz, Secretary General, UCLG Discussions focused on the importance of localizing action and partnerships among spheres of governments and stakeholders towards achieving the SDGs.

Opening Session

During opening remarks, on 12 July, Munir Akram, President, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), reported that several VNRs presented during HLPF 2021 have reflected the active role played by LRGs, signifying increased recognition of the need for localization of SDG implementation. He further highlighted a session that took place on Thursday, 8 July, titled, “Going Local,” which showcased the value of VLRs in promoting LRGs in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Via video message, Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said LRGs are at the forefront of tackling the impacts of the pandemic, and that their role in delivering public services is essential to a sustainable recovery. Zhenmin also reported growing UN recognition of local authorities, citing the 2019 UN SDG Summit commitment to support the critical role of LRGs. He highlighted an increase in the number of VLRs submitted to the HLPF. He also mentioned the active involvement in LRGs in the SDG Acceleration Actions platform, noting out of 300 actions reported, 24 are from local authorities.

Jan Van Zanen, Mayor of The Hague, the Netherlands, said ensuring a safe and inclusive recovery is critical. He discussed the UN’s work on future cities, which advocates for collaboration and collective actions for a safer, more inclusive, and more prosperous urban environment. The new normal, he said, will involve green infrastructure and public services in line with the ecological transformation of the planet.

Ulrika Modéer, UNDP, said recovery from COVID-19 is a continuum that should consider the infinite circulation of the virus, and the long-term cycle of infections. The LRGs, she added, are an essential component of sustainable and resilient post-pandemic recovery. She noted the need to address, vulnerability, poverty, hunger, health, and inequalities, and to consider differentiated impacts in vaccine inequality currently in play globally. Local action, she stressed, should be supported through SDG localization and alignment of local plans to national priorities.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat said 65% of the SDGs will not be achieved without engaging LRGs. She highlighted, among others, the Local 2030 platform, which supports local leaders in implementing strategies that advance the SDGs at the local level.

Panel 1: Local Public Service Provision: Key to Universal Health Coverage and Well Being

This panel, moderated by Lara Blanco, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, focused on the links between public service provision, health coverage, and protecting the commons. Panelists discussed the performance of health systems during the pandemic and healthcare in cities and regions.

Aysen Nikolayev, Head of the Sakha Republic, Russian Federation, reported that his region declared 2021-2030 the decade of health, where every resident will have a right to modern and preventive medicine, rehabilitation services, and remote health consultations. He highlighted the preservation of the gene pools of indigenous peoples as a key objective of the decade, and reported on a national biobank for genetic research and diagnosis of hereditary diseases.

M’pho Moruakgomo, Chair of the CLGF, said addressing growing inequalities in society is necessary to safeguard lives, health, and livelihoods. He cited primary healthcare, wastewater management, sanitation, and ensuring sustainable markets as key public services and essential for healthy cities and communities.

Thembisile Nkadimeng, Mayor of Polokwane, South Africa, said pandemic recovery packages must include pathways for universal health care, and bridge the global digital divide. She said the “Going Local,” session held during HLPF 2021 raised key issues regarding building local capacities for an equality-driven system in which national governments engage with LRGs.

Carolina Cosse, Mayor of Montevideo, Uruguay, said Montevideo is utilizing mobile clinics to reach populations affected by the pandemic. She reported on community programmes implemented to ensure fundamental human rights, including food, work, health, and equality. Defending health, she concluded, is defending life.

Jorge Muñoz Wells, Mayor of Lima, Peru, said his city’s VLR has reviewed actions in health, including a programme to address anemia which is affecting large numbers of children.

Bjørn Arild Gram, Head, Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, said municipalities in his country have had a high degree of autonomy in handling infection control including tracing of contacts. He cited Norway’s universal health coverage, which provides quality healthcare through a multigovernance approach.

Rosa Pavanelli, Secretary General, Public Service International (PSI), emphasized the need for the voices of workers in public services, including enhancing quality of jobs and employment as part of sustainable recovery and plans to achieve the SDGs. She further drew attention to PSI’s global campaign for the Human Right to Health aimed at influencing policies leading to universal public health coverage.

Panel 2: Guaranteeing Social Inclusion and Prosperity from the Ground Up

This panel took place on 12 July and was moderated by Greg Munro, Director, Cities Alliance. It addressed, among others, sustainable and locally-driven food systems, inclusion of migrants and refugees, gender equality and empowerment, and issues regarding disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities.

Discussing gender inclusion, Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala, Sweden, revealed that violence and harassment of female politicians is a key hinderance to women’s involvement in politics. She noted it would take up to 107 years for Europe to close the gender gap in political empowerment, and urged LRGs to commit to changing the paradigm in this area.

Anna König Jerlmyr, Mayor of Stockholm, Sweden, reported a decrease in the gender gap in salaries in her city, and urged safeguarding the lives of women and girls from violence. She further reported that working with civil societies, business, and academia has enabled her city to come up with sustainable solutions aimed at resilience and equality.

Johnny Araya, Mayor of San José, Costa Rica, said LRGs must be recognized as key actors for a transformative framework for achieving the 2030 Agenda. He emphasized the need to reflect the aspirations of local communities and for LRGs to have a vote in regional debates and regarding finance-related issue to ensure localization of the SDGs.

Magnus Berntsson, Vice-President, Regional Council of Västra Götaland, Sweden, cited progress in providing essential services, such as healthcare, education, social welfare, and housing. He urged promoting gender, embracing diversity, and providing resources for innovation and growth. Multilevel governance, he stressed, is a key enabler for ensuring “leaving no-one behind” in-post pandemic recovery.

Abigail Binay, Mayor of Makati, the Philippines, said her municipality is promoting social inclusion through participatory mechanisms in decision making. She reported that social media platforms have become indispensable for information sharing with citizens.

Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, Canada, reported on Kitchener’s 10-year plan to guide economic development and community initiatives in the city to support building back from COVID-19 and address emerging issues.

Daniel Gómez, Deputy Director, National Planning Department, Colombia, discussed pandemic recovery processes guided by the SDGs. He reported programmes to sustain continued reduction of poverty rates through cash transfer systems and compensation schemes. He said government policies are aimed at inclusion of all marginalized and vulnerable groups, including women and youth. He highlighted the child malnutrition programme, which focuses on innovative solutions to food sustainability and empowerment of local communities.

Mabel Bianco, Co-Chair, HLPF Major Groups and Other Stakeholders Coordination Mechanism, highlighted the plight of vulnerable groups in Latin American and the Caribbean due to the pandemic. She noted many regions have regressed by over 10 years in terms of poverty levels and progress toward achieving the SDGs. She called for including all through a more balanced participation of civil society to curb the harassment of women, indigenous peoples, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

Emilia Saiz and Lucy Slack presented the joint LRG statement to HLPF 2021, developed by the Global Taskforce of LRGs. The statement includes calls to:

  • strengthen health services and universal vaccinations;
  • include LRGs in recovery packages for a safe, green and just recovery;
  • recognize the essential role of culture for recovery and power for social justice;
  • recognize the local agenda as response to recovery and to achieve the SDGs; and
  • recognize the critical role of migration to economies and linkages between climate change and human mobility.

Panel 3: The Transformation of Work and Evolving Production and Consumption Models

This panel took place on 13 July and was moderated by Lotta Tahtinen, UN DESA. It focused on: the future of work and equitable access to opportunities for all; tools for economic recovery and building resilient cities through green jobs; and empowering small and medium-sized enterprises.  

Yousef Shawarbeh, Mayor of Amman, Jordan, reported on his city’s VLR, the first from the Arab region. He discussed strategies to transform Amman into a green city with citizens at the heart of sustainable development. He highlighted SDG indicators and reinforcement of strategies in infrastructure, digital transformation, well-being, green economy, circular economy, and other sectors.

Philipp Rode, Executive Director, London School of Economics Cities Programme, highlighted the need to urgently address SDG targets through an emergency approach paired with a strong decentralized multilevel system. He highlighted the role of city networks and local government associations as aggregates of experience, providing capacity and education building, and identifying best practices around mission oriented and emergency response governance.

Tunç Soyer, Mayor, Izmir, Turkey said the concept of resilience requires a balance between social and market forces. He discussed his city’s VLR, the first in Turkey, which focuses on human rights, culture, and digital democracy. He highlighted solutions to social and economic impacts from the pandemic, including digital platforms for food donations, and cited plans to incorporate nature into the city through green corridors.

Dato’ Haji Zamani Ahmad Bin Mansor, Mayor, Shah Alam, Malaysia, said resilience is the overarching principle of the city’s VLR, which is based on the “5 Ps” that shape the SDGs: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships. He mentioned initiatives to transform Shah Alam into a net zero carbon city.

Heba Moheib, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Egypt, explained measures put in place to transform the manufacturing, ICT, and agriculture sectors by promoting public investment, PPPs, and employment. The national strategy on manufacturing, she said, targets enhancing high tech industries, while transitioning to a green economy with the intention of doubling investments in green projects by 2025. She further noted that localization of the SDGs is supported by measures aimed at reducing development gaps among local governments.

Via video message, Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, Japan, said her city has presented a VLR to the HLPF, titled “Tokyo Sustainability Action.” She drew attention to the city’s long-term strategy dubbed, “Future Tokyo,” released in 2021 to support sustainable development and sustainable living. She further reported on sustainability measures put in place for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo from 23 July – 8 August 2021, including award medals that are recycled from metals from used cell phones and small electronic devices, and the use of low carbon emitting sources, such as hydrogen, to fuel the Olympic Village.

Panel 4: Multilevel Governance, and Strong, Inclusive Institutions Based on Solidarity

This panel took place on 13 July and was moderated by Shipra Narang Suri, Chief Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat. The panel focused on localization, decentralization, and partnerships at different governance levels. Participants provided examples of multilevel and multi-stakeholder partnerships for achieving the 2030 Agenda at local the level.

Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, US, and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) President, stressed the importance of multilevel collaboration for enhancing the role of LRGs in the SDGs. He reported that 80% of all VLRs submitted to the HLPF are from ICLEI members, showing the significance of SDG localization. He encouraged ambitious and innovative models of ensuring multilateralism, including more robust collaboration between ICLEI and the Global Taskforce of LRGs.

María Chivite Navascués, President, Navarra Government, Spain, discussed the “Reactivating Navarra Plan,” a 2020-2023 strategy aimed at supporting the city in its post-pandemic recovery. The plan, she said, focuses on a range of areas, including digitization, modern industries, entrepreneurship, and carbon neutrality, and aims to support participatory societies.

Fernando Quiroga, National Council for the Coordination of Social Policies, Argentina, cited mechanisms for multilateralism in his country across ministries and sectors, including social development, health, and gender. At the local level, he mentioned SDG networks and cooperation with 124 local governments for localization of implementation.

Edgar Pieterse, Director, African Centre for Cities, discussed ways in which Cape Town’s middle class mobilized itself into community action networks to donate food, water, and basic hygiene for the poorest during the pandemic. He emphasized the need to ensure such opportunities are institutionalized through multilevel governance.

Abdessamad Sekkal, President of the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra Regional Council, Morocco, highlighted the need to prioritize guaranteed local public services to populations, particularly in key sectors such as health, education, and social welfare. He further urged innovative tools and policy actions, including: forward-looking strategic planning processes; methods and criteria for defining action priorities; and enhancement of contributions of digital technology, democratization of access to digital technology, and the reduction of digital divides.

Closing Session

In closing remarks, Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, UN DESA, summarized key messages from the Forum, highlighting the role of LRGs in ensuring resilient, inclusive, and sustainable cities, while providing basic public services. She further stressed the role of inclusive institutions at the subnational level, and the need to ensure adequate resources, data, and capacity for LRGs to ensure successful localization of the SDGs. Spatolisano urged LRGs to participate in the SDG Acceleration Actions database to shine a light on stakeholder efforts, which can bring about change and inspire others.

In conclusion, Lucy Slack, CLGF, emphasized that keeping people at the center of sustainable development is at the heart of SDG implementation. She acknowledged multilevel governance and collaboration are keys to sustainable and resilient futures.

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