Third High level Local and Regional Governments Forum

Excellencies,Distinguished participants,Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year’s Local and Regional Governments Forum, organized in connection with the High-level political Forum, is taking place at an extremely challenging time. The world is facing a global crisis unlike any other in the 75-year history of the United Nations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a human crisis – one that is attacking societies at their core. Around the world, local and regional governments are at the forefront, dealing with the escalating social and economic effects of the pandemic.

The severity of the impacts of this pandemic will depend on whether the recovery is gradual or rapid, and whether we return to the pre-pandemic world or to one that is more sustainable and equitable.

Initial assessments are sobering. There is enormous loss of lives and livelihoods, and deepening poverty and hunger. Global GDP is expected to contract sharply in 2020 – estimates range from 3.2 percent to 5.2 percent - potentially the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression, and far worse than the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

One thing is clear, however. If responses are ad-hoc, underfunded, and without a view to long-term goals, the consequences of COVID-19 will be deep and long-lasting. We may risk reversing decades of progress towards sustainable development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While the anticipated outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic are dire, they can be averted by the actions taken now at all levels of governance. As societies around the world begin to move towards recovery, three priorities in particular will enable the world to build back better in a unified way.

First, we need to ensure there is no backsliding on the progress already made on the SDGs. This may not only endanger the prospects for sustainable development. It would also reduce resilience to other shocks in the future, especially for the most vulnerable.

Second, we need to accelerate the universal provision of quality essential services. Guaranteed universal access to services that provide quality healthcare, education, water, sanitation, clean energy and the Internet – must become an integral part of the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Third, we need to urgently reverse course on the degradation of nature. Unlike the sudden onset of the pandemic, the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss have built up more slowly. The pandemic itself reveals the size of the challenge, but also offers a chance to observe – even if for a short time – the possibility of being able to reverse the degradation of nature.

Distinguished Participants,

At the SDG Summit in September 2019, Member States reaffirmed that cities, local authorities and communities could play a critical role in implementing and realizing the SDGs. And they committed to empowering and supporting them in pursuing the 2030 Agenda.

Today, we are very happy to have with us a mix of distinguished:

• mayors and governors,• national government representatives,• academics,• representatives of the United Nations system and other international organizations, and• members of the private sector and civil society.

Today more than ever, we need, not only a whole-of-government approach, but the commitment of all actors to take action on the SDGs.

In the lead up to 2019 SDG Summit, my Department set up an online knowledge platform to galvanize and capture ambitious “SDG Acceleration Actions” undertaken by governments and all other non-state actors.

As of today, over 170 bold, game-changing commitments and initiatives – aimed at advancing the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs – have been published.

Building on many approaches, these SDG Acceleration Actions reflect diverse country and sectoral realities, as well as regional perspectives. I invite you all to be inspired by the Actions that have already been registered. Please visit the platform to register and share your own efforts to implement the SDGs.

Let us leverage our collective power to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.I wish you a successful event.

Thank you.
File date: 
Monday, July 13, 2020
Mr. Liu