World’s first ever UN Habitat Assembly promises local-friendly future

5 junio 2019

We all live somewhere. And we all want the place we live in to provide a good quality of life.

At the first ever UN Habitat Assembly, local, regional and national leaders, businesses, NGOs and academics from all around the world got together to work towards better quality of life in human settlements. From 27 to 31 May, #LeavingNoPlaceBehind was everyone’s motto. That’s why CEMR and PLATFORMA took part, to give a voice to Europe’s towns and regions and promote decentralised cooperation.

Working together to leave no one and no place behind

Who says a diverse group of people can’t get along? Despite our very different backgrounds, the UN, local and regional governments, businesses and academics all agree on one thing: in order to improve quality of life while leaving no one behind, we need and want a multi-sectoral approach. This means we will all be working together.

Specifically, this means we call for more development cooperation, better and more detailed disaggregated data on habitat-related issues, and for all of us to fully embrace the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We need a global hands-on mentality to be creative for things to happen fast”, as stated Mayor of Dortmund and Member of the CEMR Policy Committee, Ullrich Sierau, referring to the key role that global partnerships play in fostering innovation across local and regional spaces.

One thing to remember from the Assembly is that this global approach goes hand in hand with a local approach. As was highlighted by Mayor of Smiltene and Vice-Chairman of the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, Gints Kukainis during the local government forum; “All SDGs have a local dimension.” In order for SDGs to be successful, we must localise them. The inclusion of local and regional leaders of places of all sizes is necessary for their implementation.

The SDGs bring us all together

It’s truly amazing to see how the 2030 Agenda and SDGs have the power to staple cities and regions together from all over the world to work towards a common goal.” That’s what the Deputy Mayor of Mannheim, Felicitas Kubala, said to illustrate how beyond the benefits of each individual goal, a significant added value of the SDGs is that it make us all work together, hand in hand, leaving no one behind. We are all “stapled together”, as she said.

Another tool that is bound to bring us all closer together is the New Urban Agenda Platform: a multi-stakeholder tool that fosters innovation to help reach the SDGs. During the Assembly, they announced that it would be launched at the 2020 World Urban Forum (WUF).

Towns and regions have a central role to play in sustainable development worldwide. As UN Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif stated, “Local governments play a key role in the development of the 2030 Agenda: mayors’ role is important to take out the urban challenges and find solutions to leave no one and no place behind.

Next steps

The next UN Habitat Assembly will take place from 5 to 9 June 2023. That means that the next time this assembly meets, we will already be halfway through the 2030 Agenda, which was launched in 2015. But before then: see you at the World Urban Forum, which will take place in Abu Dhabi, from 8 to 13 February 2020.

Go further

Read the joint statement of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments at the occasion of the first UN Habitat Assembly.

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