On the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary on 24 October, this virtual meeting, organized under the auspices of the “Daring Cities” forum, provided space for a dialogue among urban leaders and UN officials to explore the innovative options the urban world offers to deliver on inclusive multilateralism towards 2030, with a focus on Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) as an innovative tool.
Presentations discussed: the UN's 75th anniversary and inclusive multilateralism; the City of Bonn joining the VLR movement; and the German experience with inclusive multilateralism.
Yunus Arikan, Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, explained the vision of the Daring Cities 2020 forum, which connects the climate emergency and urban challenges.
In opening remarks, Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, noted that the twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis call for stronger multilateral responses, and that cities are central actors in climate governance as 80% of global energy consumption and 70% of greenhouse gas emissions occur in cities.
During the session on UN75 and Inclusive Multilateralism, Martin Frick, Deputy Special Envoy, 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, outlined the history of how environmental issues went from peripheral to central at the UN. Emilia Sáiz, Secretary General, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), noting the current inequalities, stressed the need to redefine social interactions and think of local service provision in terms of understanding multilateralism.
Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, US, ICLEI Vice President, and spokesperson to the UN, stressed the four cornerstones at the heart of ICLEI’s proposal for multilevel collaboration in the age of inclusive multilateralism: global engagement through annual high-level consultations with the Chief Executives of the UN System; regional engagement through increased collaboration between the UN Regional Commissions and UN Host Cities; national engagement with the UN Country Coordinators through national associations; and Local 2030 hubs and local engagement, by mobilizing additional resources to champion local and regional governments engaged in the work of the UN.
During the session on City of Bonn Joining the Movement of VLRs, Ashok Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, Germany and ICLEI President, presented Bonn’s VLR which he noted connects local reporting with key objectives of the SDGs.
Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for International Affairs, Office of the Mayor, New York City, US, described how New York City became involved with the SDGs and set up ways to share best practices to accelerate impact.
The session on German Experience of Inclusive Multilateralism: A Vision for National and Global Engagement explored the different experiences from Germany. Stefan Wagner, Head, International Relations and Global Sustainability, City of Bonn, noted that VLRs are means to champion contributions of local governance.
Peter Lange, Foreign Federal Office, Germany, noted that his office has appointed someone responsible for urban diplomacy in the foreign ministry.
In closing the meeting, Yunus Arikan thanked all participants for a productive discussion.
The event was organized by ICLEI and took place on 23 October 2020 in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.