Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Opening Remarks
Second Local and Regional Governments Forum

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to be part of the Second High Level Local and Regional Governments’ Forum. On behalf of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, I wish to express our gratitude to the Governments of Cameroon and Morocco for hosting this event. I also express our appreciation for the great collaboration of our colleagues at UN-Habitat, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments and Local 2030.

Local and regional governments hold, without a doubt, the potential of being the game changers in making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for all – ensuring that no one is left behind in their regions, cities and towns.

Cities as you know, are responsible for 70 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, and their water footprint accounts for 41 per cent of the Earth’s surface. If the current development model remains unchanged, the cities of the world will consume 90 billion tons per year of raw materials, such as sand, gravel, iron ore, coal and wood, by 2050.

At the same time, cities create opportunities for fully decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation. If current trends continue, cities will be home to approximately 70 per cent of the world’s population and produce 85 per cent of global economic output by 2050. Clearly, what happens in our cities and human settlements directly affects our quality of life, our health, our planet’s health, and the future of our world.

The Global Sustainable Development Report 2019, launched at the opening of the SDG Summit, identifies six key “entry points” that offer the most promise for achieving the desired transformations at the necessary scale and speed. These entry points represent areas where focused and collaborative action by various stakeholders can accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

It is not surprising that one of those six key areas is Promoting sustainable urban and peri-urban development. With key, concrete interventions, cities and human settlements can become sustainable development hubs and laboratories for the world at large.

Today, we will learn about good practices in localizing the SDGs but also hear pledges of new Acceleration Actions. These SDG Acceleration Actions are initiatives voluntarily undertaken by countries, local and regional governments and other actors to contribute to the acceleration of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. I urge all stakeholders to commit to a new or enhanced policy, programme, or project – for SDG Acceleration Actions.

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs remains deeply committed to ensuring a robust monitoring and review of SDG implementation. In this spirit, I want to recognize the efforts of local and regional governments that have already prepared Local Voluntary Reviews, modelled after the Voluntary National Review reports.

I have been impressed by the level of commitment and excitement expressed by local and regional governments towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. I take this opportunity to especially thank the mayors, the governors and the local leaders from all regions of the world, from small to megacities, sharing their knowledge and commitments here today.

We truly hope that these two aspects together – commitment to concrete actions and robust follow-up and review with all stakeholders – will propel the cities and regions, and hence our whole world, closer to attaining the SDGs.

Thank you.

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