The 2019 SDG Summit will mark the first quadrennial review of the 2030 Agenda. It assesses where we are, how far we have come since its adoption – and what needs to be done, as we enter the next decade, to achieve the ambitious global goals to leave no one and no place behind.
The annual report by the constituency of local and regional governments, assessing the state of localization around the world, showcases the actions from over 9,000 cities from about 130 countries committed to carry out the global agendas. These cities are already acting to tackle climate change by managing waste and mobility to reduce carbon emissions. They are key in ensuring access to water in a world where almost half the population lives in urban areas. Water and sanitation services, along with the local and regional governments in charge of the field, are struggling to keep pace with increasing urbanization. When rights and civil liberties of minorities are threatened, local and regional governments have been at the forefront of the struggle for the protection of vulnerable groups.
The Need for Proper Financing Mechanisms
Local and regional governments are carrying out all of these initiatives, and providing services to their citizens, without always having the resources needed to carry them out. Local and regional governments account for 37 per cent of public investment on a world average and yet local and regional government investments only account for 1.3 per cent of the GDP. Without proper financing mechanisms, it will be impossible for them to achieve the goals and fully strengthen social and territorial cohesion. This is why we claim that our actions are upscaled if we truly want to accelerate the achievement of the Global Agendas.
The UN General Assembly and the SDG Summit need to go beyond the review of the SDGs and will call for all spheres of government and all stakeholders to upscale their efforts and truly commit to achieving the 2030 Agenda. The Summit will set the stage for the implementation decade. It will be climate-oriented, considering that the UN Climate Action Summit will take place just one day before. This summit, convened by the UN Secretary General, strives to boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement.
A Bold and Immediate Response is Necessary
Climate action does indeed play an important part of the UN High-Level week, and the climate emergency necessitates of a bold and immediate response. Local and regional governments are aware of this and are responding to the emergency with public policies. These are often cause of controversy but are, nonetheless, essential to transform life, to adapt, and to mitigate the worse that climate change will bring.
Local and regional governments are pursuing zero-carbon cities, addressing choking air pollution, traffic congestion, and implementing low-carbon measures in energy provision and mobility to ensure that they are resilient and can adapt to the future. The urban dimension of climate needs to be addressed, and it is at the urban level where these discussions are taking place. The ecological transition can only succeed if it is led, and owned, by the communities we represent… but we cannot do everything on our own.
We only have direct power over less than one third of emission reduction potential, and it is essential to get all stakeholders on board – national governments, and the private sector included – to ensure a carbon-free future for our communities, and it has to be done now to put ourselves on a path to prosperity and resilience.
Global Agendas Must be Approached as One
It is important to keep in mind that we cannot address the Paris Agreement without addressing the SDGs. From United Cities and Local Governments and our constituency as a whole, we know that all global agendas need to be seen and approached as one. Only if we transform how we live according to the SDGs, will we achieve the Paris Agreement, and if we want to achieve the SDGs, we need the transformative potential and the logic of the New Urban Agenda.
The second iteration of the Local and Regional Governments’ Forum, which will take place during the week, will be integral to secure spaces of dialogue among spheres of government and the United Nations and to underscore the importance of addressing the global agendas as one to leave no one and no place behind.
Acknowledging the Importance of Local Action
The political declaration of the SDG Summit is the outcome document of the event. In it, the heads of state and government that meet at the Summit will address the current state of affairs and the progress of the 2030 Agenda, upscale their commitments, and call for accelerated action to achieve the global goals.
The Declaration acknowledges that local action is essential to accelerate implementation and to achieve the goals and that local and regional governments need the adequate resources to truly become partners for transformation. We need to underscore that local and regional governments, as sentinels of the dreams of our communities, are already committed to accelerate the achievement of the goals, and that we need to get all stakeholders on board, and that we need to ensure that the international community embraces local governance and territorial cohesion order to make the global agendas a reality.
The World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments is, as a facilitator of the Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, leading the local-global movement towards localization of the global agendas, which is expanding to all regions. With the mandate that we received from our communities, we are committed to play a leading role in the achievement of the Global Agendas, accelerate implementation, and work to transform our world.