A New Urban Reality: How Local Authorities Can Turn COVID-19 Recovery Challenges into Real Opportunities

On the 6 October 2020 stakeholders from the UNECE region and United Nations Organisations convened for the first time ever for the Forum of Mayors. The theme of the event: "City action for a resilient future: Strengthening local government preparedness and response to emergencies and the impact of disasters and climate change". Learn about the results of the Forum here!

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On the 6 October 2020, as part of the UNECE Sustainable Cities Week, the Forum of Mayors provided a unique platform to exchange best practices, ideas and tools for handling the COVID-19 emergency while simultaneously advancing sustainable urban development.

Participants of the Forum emphasised the need for enhanced multilateral cooperation, that values the contributions of local authorities and communities, to successfully implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Besides advocating for the involvement of local governments in SDG efforts, participants underscored the important role of local governments for addressing challenges faced by cities in the wake of current urbanisation trends. A large portion of the event was therefore dedicated to identifying tools and platforms to facilitate multi-level stakeholder collaboration and support, like the presented Geneva Cities Hub, as well as entry points for local governments as the frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main outcome of the Forum, the Geneva Declaration of Mayors, aligns the “build back better” initiative of UN Secretary-General António Guterres with efforts of city leaders to use the COVID-19 recovery as an actual chance for reshaping urban realities and secure a sustainable and resilient future. Calling the COVID-19 pandemic “an unprecedented emergency” threatening urban living, the declaration recognises the pandemic’s potential for city adaptation to urban changes via the work of local governments and through strong multilateral cooperation.

Following the successful conclusion of the first ever Forum of Mayors, the second Forum will take place in 2021. Have a look at the individual statements made by the mayors and the details of the Geneva Declaration here.