Mayors taking part in the UNECE City Day reminded cities of the importance of cities for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that local actions are more close to citizens and have an immediate and visible impact on citizens. their lives.
The event took place on April 8, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. It aimed to enable the exchange of views and the sharing of knowledge on good practices and succession planning strategies. Participants discussed how cities are making urban areas smarter and more sustainable, and how digitalization and technology can contribute to this transition. Two round tables were discussed: smart and sustainable cities, focused on improving the quality of people’s lives; and improving the efficiency of urban operations, services and competitiveness.
According to a UNECE press release, cities generate more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The UNECE region, she notes, is one of the most urbanized regions in the world, with urban areas accounting for over 75% of the population in Europe, 80% in North America and almost 50% in Europe. Central Asia.
Addressing the participants, UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova acknowledged the need for the UN to give mayors and local governments more space to discuss concrete actions and solutions to achieve the goals. sustainable development. Participants called on the international community to offer more opportunities, such as Cities Day, to create “resilient, low-emission, circular, natural and equal cities for health”. They also stated that enhanced ECE support to local authorities could help overcome the challenges faced in implementing the SDGs in urban areas.
UNECE recognizes that mayors can help cities to reduce their emissions, make carbon-neutral urban environments and increase their resilience to disasters by taking action on: reducing the number of cars in urban areas; increase green spaces and green infrastructure; add more pedestrian zones; promote public transport and shared mobility; and strengthening urban forestry.
Participants emphasized the importance of, inter alia: safe and inclusive solutions for food security; reduce food waste; increase the share of organic foods; Waste Management; use sustainable local materials for construction; reduce the use of plastics; and engage local skills and knowledge.
They stressed the need to develop public spaces to improve the quality of life in cities and the interactions between citizens, and to provide more affordable housing. With regard to the latter, participants highlighted the need for new housing management solutions, such as local housing associations, a more accessible housing market, incentives for affordable housing construction, increased affordable housing through more rental housing and lower taxes for income residents.
City Day brought together more than 400 participants, including more than 50 mayors from 33 UNECE member countries, urban managers and other municipal practitioners, as well as representatives of international organizations. An exhibition on “Smart and Sustainable Cities”, held from April 8 to 9, presented effective approaches to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the municipal, national and regional levels.
Source: SDG Knowledge Hub.