Local authorities are on the front line in addressing some of today’s most pressing sustainability challenges, including climate change, environmental degradation, social inclusion and mobility. However, despite their responsibility for actions affecting citizens’ lives every single day, making them critical players in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), city governments’ voice is not sufficiently heard in the international arena.
Following-up on the discussions of the Day of Cities convened by UNECE in April 2019, its Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management has decided to convene a Forum of Mayors in 2020 and 2021. This will provide a unique platform for city governments in the UNECE region to share best practices and engage in focused dialogues with national governments on key sustainable urban development issues.
The Forum will submit its recommendations to the Committee on how to address the challenges faced by local authorities in the region. This will help shape the policy priorities and programme activities of the intergovernmental Committee, which is composed of representatives of UNECE’s 56 members States in Europe, North America and Central Asia. The Forum will be convened on the first day of the Committee’s annual sessions.
The first Forum in 2020 will be dedicated to climate action in cities. Today, cities consume roughly 60% of the planet’s energy and generate 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and waste. But the leadership of cities is also crucial for the ambitious climate action we need, with urban areas playing an increasingly important role in advancing concrete measures to slow global heating and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
“The UNECE region is among the most highly urbanized in the world, with some 75% of the population already living in cities. Urban authorities are the ones responding to the challenges faced by citizens every day; they are also delivering solutions on the ground to key sustainability issues. By strengthening our engagement with these key actors, the Forum of Mayors will enrich our support for sustainable urban development, housing and land management, which are critical dimensions for the 2030 Agenda” said Executive Secretary of UNECE, Ms. Olga Algayerova. “We need the active involvement of all levels of government, alongside civil society, the private sector and academia, to reach the Sustainable Development Goals”, she stressed.
In her opening speech to the 80thSession of the Committee, UNOG Director General, Ms. Tatyana Valovaya, stressed the importance for the UN to respond to the needs of a new multilateralism, where local actors have a crucial role to play. Commenting on the Forum – she noted how it “can provide a voice to mayors to share practices and engage in focused dialogues with national governments within the United Nations.”
Mr. Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana reflected on the decision taken by the Committee: “I am delighted to learn that the decision to organise the Forum of Mayors was adopted. I think the Forum is a fantastic platform. I look very much forward to this platform being established and mayors putting in different pieces of the puzzle to get a full picture on how we can create sustainable cities.” He also added that: “Elevating the mayors’ agenda, the city agenda to the UN level really gives a tool for mayors to advocate better to their own national governments the great ideas that are coming from cities.”
The Committee also decided to convene a Ministerial Meeting in October 2021 to discuss the implementation of the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing and the UNECE Strategy for Sustainable Housing and Land Management 2014-2020.
About UNECE’s work on housing and land management
The UNECE Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management, established in 1947, is the only intergovernmental body addressing the housing and urban development challenges of the entire UNECE region and the highest policy-making body of UNECE on this topic. The Committee works to promote: energy efficient and adequate housing for all, including the most vulnerable populations; compact, inclusive, resilient, smart and sustainable cities; and transparent and efficient land use, and property registration.
More information is available at http://www.unece.org/housing.html
About the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing
The Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing is a non-legally binding document that aims to support member States as they seek to ensure access to decent, adequate, affordable and healthy housing for all. It was endorsed by UNECE in 2015. To date, the Charter is available in 13 languages.
Read it at: https://www.unece.org/housing/charter.html