Opening the event, General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa pointed to “the exponential growth” of urban centers, calling urbanization “the dominant force of the XXI century.”
The relationship between climate change, food security and urban action is central to deliver on the 2030 Agenda — General Assembly President
Noting the link between SDG 11 and local Governments, she said it was encouraging to see examples where Mayors have adopted the 2030 Agenda as part of their development plans and urban planning.
She cited the New Urban Agenda, which sets a long-term roadmap to achieve a transforming, sustainable and inclusive urban development, as “another great achievement for multilateralism.”
“For the first time, local Governments participated to build a United Nations statement on sustainable urban development, which proves that our Organization is open to listen and include the voice and guidance of all those who are decision-makers and are closest to people,” she asserted.
Having more than half of the global population in urban areas implies greater pollution and environmental deterioration – significantly impacting climate change.
Local governments play a major role in the Paris Agreement, and faced with difficulties at the international level, they are the ones who are leading this important agenda.
“The High-Level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All, which will be held on 28th March, and the Climate Action Summit on 23rd September, will also offer us the opportunity to address the role of cities in its entirety,” she announced.
Turning to another “vital initiative,” Ms. Espinosa said that “we will address the coordinated efforts of the Mayors of several cities in this session.”
“The relationship between climate change, food security and urban action is central to deliver on the 2030 Agenda and this is what encourages this space for dialogue and exchange,” she stressed.
A better, more sustainable and inclusive future for all is possible “if we optimize the relationships and the coordination between National Governments and local Governments,” which “can and must be the agents for the transformations that we need,” concluded the General Assembly President.
Also speaking at the meeting was UN Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, who delivered her remarks through video message.
A host of mayors, former mayors, economists and urban development experts shared experiences of effective local practices, innovative strategies and lessons learned in addressing global challenges including climate change, food insecurity and malnutrition, food supply and consumption sustainability, and people’s wellbeing from a sustainable and resilient food system perspective.