This event was convened in the context of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) and included a reaction to the findings of the Visioning Report UN75: The Role of Local and Regional Governments in the Future Global Governance of the International System. The report was drafted by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) on behalf of the constituency, as part of the global consultation organized by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the occasion of the UN’s 75th Anniversary.
LRGs are at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, building back better, climate action, and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and, thus, they should have a formal seat at the UN table, participants emphasized during the event. Noting that democracy is in jeopardy, as well as the survival of human rights, Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona and Special Envoy of UCLG to the UN, called for a new global governance that puts people at the center. In this vein, Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala, Sweden, and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Vice-President, proposed the UCLG be given observer status at the UN. Vasu Gounden, Executive Director, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, suggested the UN create a “second chamber,” so that, by 2045, two UN chambers exist: the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN General Assembly of Local Governments.
Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, Germany, and President, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, said LRGs should strengthen their collaboration with the UN through: annual dialogues between the Global Taskforce of LRGs and the UN Sustainable Development Group; collaboration between the UN Regional Commissions, host cities, and regional governments and networks; and engagement with the UN Resident Coordinators in countries.
Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the UN's 75th Anniversary, mentioned that UNGA adopted a Declaration on the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations in which it mandated the Secretary-General to come with concrete recommendations on ways to “upgrade the UN.” He explained that the Secretary-General will commence a new consultation for crafting the recommendations, which he will present to UNGA in 2021. Hochschild invited UCLG to advance recommendations discussed during the event related to a more formalized role for LRG in the UN.
During a session on the findings of the Visioning Report, participants also discussed the UN75 Report: The Future We Want, The UN We Need: Update on the Work of the Office on the Commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary, which summarizes the global consultation.
Opening the discussion, Hochschild noted the global consultation reached more than one million people. He explained that the UN75 Report was based on data from more than 1000 UN75 dialogues and an artificial intelligence analysis of social media in 75 countries. He emphasized the consultation had revealed that, despite the polarization spread in our societies by social media algorithms, people are united in their basic demands. People’s fears and hopes are similar, he said, and local governments are best suited to meet their needs. In subsequent sessions, LRG representatives discussed these needs.
A session on immediate priorities for recovery from the pandemic highlighted the need for improved access to basic services (healthcare, safe water, sanitation and education), greater international solidarity, tackling inequalities, and rebuilding a more inclusive economy. A session on long-term priorities focused on the climate crisis, gender equality, decentralization, post-COVID-19 green economic recovery, and reducing corruption. A final session addressed international cooperation and the UN, making proposals for a renewed multilateralism.
This event was organized by UCLG. It took place on 8 October 2020 in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.