16 July 2020
Local and Regional Governments Critical to Post-COVID-19 Recovery Efforts
Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash
story highlights

The event took place on the sidelines of the HLPF, and focused on the theme ‘The Decade of Action - bolstering change from the ground-up’.

Speakers emphasized the importance of multilevel governance, sound local finances, decentralized cooperation, and territorial cohesion in the post-COVID-19 era.

The Third Local and Regional Governments Forum on the 2030 Agenda took place virtually on the sidelines of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).The event focused on the theme ‘The Decade of Action – bolstering change from the ground-up.’ It also  highlighted actions that local and regional governments have taken in preventing and responding 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. 

Mahmoud Mohieldin, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, highlighted the need for a new ‘DNA’ for cities – data, networks, and artificial intelligence – for a more rapid recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and effective delivery of essential services.
 
The event included three panel discussions. The first addressed delivering universal basic services. Panelists underscored the need for integrating the environment-related SDGs into local and regional governments’ COVID-19 recovery plans and efforts, and for subsidiarity and citizens’ participation in decision making to ensure SDG implementation in the post-COVID-19 era.

A second panel discussed multilevel territorial governance and sustainable financing. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, underscored the need for voluntary local reviews to include sustainable management of natural resources. Panelists also said cities need new, green, sustainable development agendas moving forward, urged government expenditure at the subnational level, and underscored the need for accessibility to be considered a crosscutting issue in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
 
The third panel focused on building back better in the post-COVID recovery. Wim Dries, Mayor of Genk, Belgium, said if the SDGs had already been achieved, the global health crisis and its social and economic impacts would have been far less severe. Panelists underscored the need for new forms of distribution, participation, and parity in political representation in the post-COVID-19 era to build more just, inclusive, and resilient societies. They said the pandemic necessitated replicating and scaling up best practices. 
 
During the closing session, speakers called for, inter alia, local and regional governments to serve as advocates for the UN Secretary-General’s proposed six climate-related actions to shape the COVID-19 recovery; international institutions and development banks to provide credit lines for countries that are epicenters of the pandemic; and a more inclusive multilateral system to advance post-COVID-19 recovery efforts and the 2030 Agenda. 

The Forum was organized by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), UN Development Programme (UNDP), and Local 2030. The Forum convened on 13 July 2020 in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Publication: Towards the Localization of the SDGs report] [UCLG Website] [ENB Coverage of the Forum


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