Local and Regional Governments’ Forum
– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at Local and Regional Governments’ Forum
Mayors, Local Leaders, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen – Good morning
It is my pleasure to address this gathering of Local and Regional Governments – the first of its kind held during the High Level Political Forum.
This meeting comes at the right time. We are now three years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. And we need to meet and share our experiences – to have a dialogue about what works and what does not. And then to adapt these shared solutions to local settings. So, thanks to all partners here today for exploring the local dimensions of our most ambitious global agenda yet.
And I would like use this opportunity to focus on your role in the 2030 Agenda and also in migration.
First, you – the local and regional actors – are critical in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable development is necessarily local, regional and global in nature. So, we need dialogue at all of these levels. Allow me to highlight some key development areas where we are depending on your partnership and work.
First, inequality. 1.6 billion people without adequate housing. 2.4 billion without access to toilets and sanitation. And 2 billion affected by water stress. We are making some progress but the gap between rich and poor is still growing. And this gap exists not just among countries, but also within them – we see differences in development among cities, towns and villages. The most vulnerable among us deserve special attention if we are to bridge the disparities.
Second, planning. The urban poor are at risk as cities continue to expand at a rapid rate. Urbanization, if not planned and managed, leads to slums, poverty and vulnerability to disasters. Mayors and local leaders deal with the added pressure on waste collection, infrastructure and the environment, to name a few.
And this week, many of the goals under review are environment-related. We are depending on you to develop local strategies to manage natural disasters. To implement the Paris Agreement on the ground. But also, to help finance the Sustainable Development Goals – which leads me to the third critical area of work – mobilizing finance.
Simply put, we need money to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. And governments alone do not have enough. The good news is that it the funding is out there – in communities, in businesses and with individuals. But how do we channel these funds into the right areas? This was the topic of discussion at my event on financing the Sustainable Development Goals in June. We need your help to create the right environment for investments – locally. The United Nations, central governments, agencies and local leaders must work together to achieve this.
So, it follows that the fourth area we should focus on is partnerships. The United Nations is a platform for this. And today’s Forum can help us to build a better relationship – both, among local and regional government actors, and between them and international partners.
The local and regional actors – are critical in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable development is necessarily local, regional and global in nature. So, we need dialogue at all of these levels
Before I conclude, I want to point out another reason this meeting is coming at the right time. Last Friday, we reached an agreement on the Global Compact on Migration. In December, it will formally become the first comprehensive framework on migration the world has ever seen.
You– and your colleagues – deal with migration on a daily basis. You are often the first responders…..the service providers….the first faces of governments to meet new arrivals. If we want to make this Compact a success – if we want a better, more proactive response to migration – local and regional actors must be on board.
These areas are but a few. And you know your local circumstances far better than I would. So please bring your own ideas, stories and expertise to the table.
I look forward to the outcomes of this meeting and to your active engagement during this year’s High-Level Political Forum.
I hope this meeting is the beginning of a bigger and better partnership.
And I hope that the connections made today will extend beyond this building – and lead to stronger cooperation in the weeks, months and years ahead.