Local and regional government representatives discussed the increased demand for digital transformation at the local and regional levels as a result of the pandemic, and cautioned that digitization must be inclusive and not lead to increased inequalities.
A lack of policy coherence and coordination between local and regional governments and different levels of government were also noted as a barrier to effective management of the pandemic.
The benefits of establishing a joint agenda between local, national, and international levels to bolster local action and accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, post-COVID-19, were the focus of a side event that took place on the sidelines of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).The event, ‘Accelerating Transformation from the Ground-up in a Post-COVID Era,’ took place as part of Local and Regional Governments Day and was organized by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).
During the event, local and regional government representatives highlighted the need for investments that support universal access to essential public services, green recovery, and revamped multilateralism to achieve the SDGs in the post-COVID-19 era. Participants discussed the local and regional government constituency’s Joint Statement to the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and defined priorities for the post-COVID-19 period.
The event also marked the launch of a UCLG report, Towards the Localization of the SDGs. Marina Ponti, Director, UN SDG Action Campaign, announced the September launch, with UCLG, of a global mobilization campaign for local and regional actors on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary.
Speakers highlighted the importance of, inter alia: the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change in guiding all recovery efforts; multilateralism and the need for collaboration across all levels of government and stakeholders; and knowledge sharing among local and regional governments and collaboration with international institutions during the post-COVID-19 rebuilding process.
On challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, participants mentioned: revenue generation as a growing problem for local and regional governments; difficulties faced by local and regional governments in developing countries in localizing the SDGs, given high poverty and illiteracy rates; and a lack of policy coherence and coordination between local and regional governments and different levels of government as a barrier to effective management of the pandemic.
Participants also cautioned that the COVID-19 crisis has deepened gender inequality. They called for establishing gender violence protection programmes, and inclusion of gender considerations in local budgeting when rethinking cities.
Local and regional government representatives also observed:
- the increased demand for digital transformation at the local and regional levels as a result of the pandemic;
- digitization must be inclusive and not lead to increased inequalities;
- the pandemic revealed the necessity of decentralizing governance; and
- the need for reconstructing the international system with local governments at the forefront of sustainable development and SDG implementation.
On rebuilding societies and economies post-COVID-19, Almudena Maillo, Councilor of Madrid, Spain, said the Local and Regional Government Joint Statement to the HLPF should further the economic recovery of cities and prioritize the economic SDGs, namely SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation, and infrastructure), and 11 (sustainable cities and communities).
This event took place on 10 July 2020 in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [ENB Coverage of the Side Event]