High-Level luncheon with world mayors

As delivered

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, at High-Level luncheon with world mayors

6 September 2017


Distinguished mayors,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to this High-Level Luncheon.

I would like to begin by thanking our partners in organizing this event, particularly the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments.

As we have heard during yesterday and today’s General Assembly High-Level Meeting on implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the role of UN-Habitat, the international community stands at a crossroads in our efforts to shift humanity towards a world that is inclusive and sustainable.

Indeed, it was for this purpose that world leaders came together in September 2015 to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Implemented effectively, the SDGs stand to transform our world by breaking cycles of poverty; building peaceful societies; increasing global prosperity; achieving gender equality; countering growing inequality; protecting our natural environmental, and averting the worst impacts of climate change.

It is fair to say that the challenge of implementing the 2030 Agenda is on a scale the world has not seen before. And because the maturation of the SDGs is now only thirteen years away, it is vital that their implementation be by now well underway.

Without doubt, the role of cities in achieving this implementation is absolutely fundamental. With mass urbanization taking place across our world on a scale unprecedented in human history, cities must increasingly be the epicenters to which we direct our policy attention and resources.

And it is in this context that the adoption of the New Urban Agenda last October is so important.

Taken together with the 2030 Agenda, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the New Urban Agenda provides us with an ambitious framework to guide us towards well-planned, designed and managed cities.

We know that effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda will require expertise and partnerships.

We know it will require leadership, innovation and commitment from Mayors and local government, including by putting in place SDG implementation strategies.

It will also require collaboration among all stakeholders – including community leaders, civil society and the private sector.

Indeed, according to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, achieving the SDGs could generate business opportunities worth up to $12 trillion a year by 2030 through developments in just four key business areas – cities, food, energy and health.

This is why the business community is such an important partner in our efforts to achieve the SDGs.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I appeal to all here today, who have not yet done so, to integrate the SDGs into your own plans, policies and strategies.

I encourage you to use your local regulatory roles to support sustainable, low carbon investments.

And I ask you to use your community networks to spread the word of the SDGs to your citizens.

I look forward to a robust discussion today and to hearing your ideas on how cities can implement the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a view to realizing the promise of a safer, more equitable, more resilient and sustainable world.

I thank you.