Putting Basic Services First: How Fighting Inequality Globally Has to Start Locally

Addressing the international community, Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments, underscores local and regional governments’ (LRGs) impacts on their communities in terms of prepping them for global challenges to come while fighting current crisis.

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Confronted with the current health crises, LRGs had to take major steps to protect the most vulnerable in society from not losing their access to basic services. The responsibility of LRGs to ensure a steady delivery of clean water, sanitation, food access and education while maintaining the public sector has put more pressure than ever on LRGs. Against this backdrop Emilia Saiz identifies the provision of local basic services to all as critical for the recovery from the pandemic and yet, according to her, LRGs are still missing the necessary attention in the global debate around COVID-19 and sustainable development. According to Saiz financing the public service ecosystem is just as crucial as achieving universal health coverage.

As representative of the international municipal movement and LRGs, Saiz describes the struggle against the virus as a fight against poverty and structural inequality which are issues deepened by the pandemic, however persistently present in cities and regions. Recognising that service provision systems will struggle due to lack of resources, Saiz and LRG-representatives are concerned that the pandemic will result in many more vulnerable population groups being left behind.

Therefore, Saiz emphasises the urgent need for LRGs and the communities they represent to be part of a renewed global table that takes responsibility for future generations. According to Saiz, treating local leaders as part of the solution, partners and allies will ensure that the focus on democracy, transparency, and accountability is met. She points to the unique chance of LRGs to use culture and innovation as a cure to treat the pandemic’s consequences in a way that will prepare communities for future challenges.

Take a look at Emilia Saiz’s detailed recommendations and why her conclusion is that: “We need to change the game and we are the game changers.”