Opening remarks at Fourth High-level Local and Regional Governments Forum

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this fourth edition of the high level Local and Regional Governments Forum, organized in connection with the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. 

On behalf of UN DESA, I wish to recognize our partners from the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, UN-Habitat, UNDP, and Local 2030, for their great collaboration in today’s event. I also take this opportunity to greet all participants who are connecting from all over the world today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world profoundly, causing tragic loss of life, deep suffering, and economic hardship across the globe. The pandemic has set the world’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals at grave risk, undermining years of development efforts. 

Local and regional governments around the world have been at the forefront combating the pandemic and its impacts. These past months have clearly demonstrated that we cannot have sustainable recovery and development without their efforts.

Because of their direct link with communities and citizens, local and regional governments have a critical role in responding to the needs of the most vulnerable. This includes by ensuring that public services – such as basic health, housing, education, clean energy and water – are functioning and safeguarded. 

The rapid expansion of social protection, the emergence of community resilience, and the development of unique partnerships at the local level, have been truly inspiring to witness. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 2019 United Nations SDG Summit committed to empowering and supporting the critical role of cities, local authorities and communities in realizing the SDGs.

An analysis of the 2020 Voluntary National Reviews – presented by Member States at the HLPF last year – showed that in many instances, the implementation of the SDGs relies on concrete policies at the local level.  As the Secretariat of the HLPF, UN DESA is committed to ensuring robust monitoring and review of progress in SDG implementation at all levels. 

In this context, it is encouraging to see how the local and subnational reviews - also known as the Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) - are picking up pace. 

And, while the VLRs are not directly mandated by the 2030 Agenda, these reviews have proven useful to drive localization and accelerating SDG implementation. They can also serve as an important collection of concrete examples of lessons learned and successful experiences.

The Voluntary Local Reviews process can bring multiple benefits, such as to:

  • support more integrated policymaking and coordination;
  • serve as a catalyst for increased engagement with civil society, the private sector and academia;
  • help enhance data collection;
  • serve as a communication tool between different levels of government; and 
  • facilitate the search for new and innovative means of implementation.

I am pleased to share that UN DESA has created an online platform to compile and showcase those VLRs. We have also drafted Global Guiding Elements for VLRs to support these efforts, building on those prepared for the VNRs. I invite you all to look at these tools.

UN DESA has also been collecting examples of SDG implementation efforts by all actors, to shine the spotlight on practices that truly work and could be scaled up by others. 

For instance, the Municipality of Lima, in Peru, has set up an initiative to support access to fresh foods during the COVID-19 outbreak. To date, over 3,000 families have been trained, ensuring vulnerable people’s livelihoods and basic needs.

In Deqing County, China, a Rural Digital Governance System has been set up to:

  • modernize agricultural production, 
  • improve farmers' digital literacy, and 
  • promote high-quality medical resources to the countryside.

I take this opportunity to invite all of you to register your SDG Acceleration Actions through the global, online platform set up by UN DESA.  

We currently have more than 300 SDG Acceleration Actions registered by governments and stakeholders around the world – including 24 from local and regional governments. I will be looking forward to seeing more ambitious commitments from local and regional governments featured in this global databank.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In this Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, let us work together in solidarity, to achieve sustainable development for all, leaving no one behind.

I wish you all a successful event.

I thank you.

File date: 
Monday, July 12, 2021

Mr. Liu