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From Global Issues to Local Priorities

19/02/2019 @ 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

From Global Issues to Local Priorities: The role of Cities in the Global Agenda,
including Cities for Sustainable Development, Food Security, Nutrition and
Climate Change


19 February 2019

3:00-6:00 PM – UN Headquarters, New York


At present, 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and this proportion is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050. This rise coincides with a period during which many countries are implementing policy decentralization processes that are resulting in increased and wider responsibilities for sub-national governments. In this context, cities are being called upon to take a more active role in contributing to national governments’ initiatives in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Most of the challenges faced by cities at the local level, including climate change and food security, are global in nature and call for multilateral solutions. Thus, we need to reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism, with the United Nations at its heart, and strengthen international cooperation to address common challenges. The solutions however, need to be adapted to the local context and priorities.

Furthermore, the New Urban Agenda reaffirms global commitment to sustainable urban development as a critical step for realizing sustainable development in an integrated and coordinated manner at the global, regional, national, subnational and local levels, with the participation of all relevant actors. Its implementation will contribute to the localization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in an integrated manner, and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets.

Addressing food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition (SDG2), promoting wellbeing for all (SDG 3), ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12) and tackling the impacts of climate change (SDG13) are among the key global challenges that require holistic local solutions. These can be spearheaded by visionary leadership from cities that strive to become inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11).

Working with partners, FAO is supporting the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and has developed a Framework for the Urban Food Agenda, which aims at leveraging sub-national and local government action to ensure sustainable food systems and improved nutrition. The event will privilege multilateral solutions to tackle challenges that are global in nature. In fact, it aims to discuss how to adjust international outcomes and solutions to the local context and priorities.

The event will give voice to cities and sub-national governments with successful experiences in addressing food and healthy diets, wellbeing, sustainability of consumption and production patterns and climate challenges from a local perspective and through innovative actions


The event will take place on 19 February 2019 from 3pm-6pm at the United Nations HQ in New York. It will be co-hosted by Her Excellency María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly (PGA) and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Mr José Graziano da Silva.

Mayors and former mayors will share experiences of effective local practices, innovative strategies and lessons learned in addressing global challenges including climate change, food insecurity and malnutrition, food supply and consumption sustainability, and people’s wellbeing from a sustainable and resilient food system perspective.



José Graziano da Silva

Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

José Graziano da Silva has worked on food security, rural development, and agriculture issues for over 30 years, most notably as the architect of Brazil’s Zero Hunger (Fome Zero) programme and now as the Director-General of FAO.

Graziano da Silva led the team that designed the Zero Hunger programme, and, in 2003, was charged by then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to implement the programme as Special Minister of Food Security and the Fight against Hunger. 

He headed the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean from 2006 to 2011. Elected Director-General of FAO, he took up office on 1 January 2012. After his first term from 1 January 2012 to 31 July 2015, Graziano da Silva was re-elected for a second 4 year-term (1 August 2015 to 31 July 2019) with the votes of 177 countries during FAO’s 39th Conference.

At the helm of FAO, Graziano da Silva has sharpened the Organization’s strategic focus; and is strengthening its field presence.  He is also working to instill a best value-for-money culture. At the international level, he  is working to build consensus on food security-related issues.

He has also encouraged closer cooperation with development partners, supports South-South cooperation, and has increased collaboration with civil society and private sector entities, including farmer organizations and cooperatives for smallholder producers.

Graziano da Silva holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy and a Master’s Degree in Rural Economics and Sociology from the University of São Paulo (USP), and a Ph.D. in Economic Sciences from the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). He also has post-Doctorate Degrees in Latin American Studies (University College of London) and Environmental Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz). 

A Brazilian and Italian by nationality, he is married to Paola Ligasacchi and has two children and four grandchildren.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif

Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programm

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Sharif was the Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia. In 2011, she was the first woman to be appointed president of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai. As mayor of a local authority, she led the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai to achieve its vision of a “cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to work, live, invest and play”. She is a champion of Gender‐Responsive Participatory Budgeting and Gender Responsive Participatory Planning, integrating gender perspectives into the governance process as a means of mainstreaming gender into budgetary and development policy and planning. During her tenure, the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai was the first Local Authority to implement and achieve six quality‐based management ISO certifications.

Ms. Sharif began her career as a Town Planner at the Municipal Council of Penang Island in 1985. In 2003, she was promoted to Director of Planning and Development, a position she held until November 2009. As Director, she was responsible for the preparation of structure and local plans, and was directly involved in development control of Penang City projects and landscape development. She also led a team for the planning and implementation of the Urban Renewal Projects in George Town. In November 2009, she was entrusted as the first General Manager to establish George Town World Heritage Incorporated and manage the George Town World Heritage Site, which was inscribed by UNESCO in July 2008.

Born in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, on 26 August 1961, Ms. Sharif holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Town Planning Studies from the University of Wales Institutes of Science and Technology, the United Kingdom, and a Master of Science in Planning Studies from the Malaysia Science University. She has received a number of awards, among others by the Penang State Government and International Organisations, such as “Planner of The Year 2014” by the Malaysian Institute of Planners as well as the 2016 Global Human Settlements Outstanding Contribution Award during Habitat III in Quito, for her contribution in sustainable planning in Seberang Perai. On 11 January 2018, she received a recognition award from the Malaysia Book of Records for being the first Asian woman to be appointed as Executive Director of UN‐Habitat.

Mauricio Rodas Espinel

Mayor of the Metropolitan District of Quito

Born in Quito on April 15, 1975, he is married and father of four children.  He is a Doctor in Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador in Quito (PUCE). Thanks to a Fulbright fellowship and a scholarship from de Organization of American States (OAS), he earned two master’s degrees at the University of Pennsylvania in Government Administration and Political Science.

He began his professional carrier at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago de Chile, where he published works on sustainable development in Latin America. Later, he founded DS Consultores, a public policy consultancy firm based in Mexico City, through which he advised different Federal Government ministries in Mexico, as well as state and local governments in that country.  In 2007, Dr. Rodas founded the Mexico-based Fundacion Ethos, a public policy Think Tank focus in social policies for Latin America. Since 2008, Dr. Rodas promotes a political concept called “Responsible Government Model”, an innovative and modern vision that seeks to go beyond the traditional left-right wing divide to foster prosperity based on responsible policies.

Dr. Rodas has worked as analyst for various international media enterprises, including: CNN, Televisa, TV Azteca, Foreign Policy magazine, BBC World, Diario Reforma, Revista PODER, among others.

In 2011, he returned to Ecuador and began his political career. He is the founder and president of Movimiento Sociedad Unida Más Acción (SUMA), a national political party. He ran for president of Ecuador in the 2013 general elections, obtaining the fourth place among eight candidates, becoming the surprise of the election. 

In May 14, 2014 he was appointed Mayor of Quito, after winning the elections against the incumbent candidate, becoming the youngest mayor in the history of the city.

Mauricio Rodas was the hosting Mayor of the United Nations Conference on Urban Sustainable Development Habitat III, receiving almost 30,000 international delegates. He has also being very active in the most important network of cities. He is currently the world co President of United Cities and Local Governments UCLG (for which he was reelected for a second term), he is also a member of the Global Executive Committee of Local Governments for Sustainability – ICLEI,  member of the Board of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and member of the Steering Committee of the Cities Climate Leadership Group – C-40.

He is also a Global Young Leader and a member of the Global Future Councils of the World Economic Forum.

Oscar Humberto Evora Santos

President of the Municipal Chamber of Praia

Óscar Humberto Évora Santos Mayor of the City of Praia Cabo Verde   Dr. Oscar Santos holds Master’s degree in Economics, from the American University in Washington D.C – EUA in 1989. Dr. Óscar Santos has been in the public service for over 22 years dedicated to cause of a Modern State of Democracy. 

In 2008, he was elected as the Finance and Trade Deputy Mayor and since 2015 he has been serving as the Mayor of the City of Praia. After winning the elections, Dr. Santos has been pursuing the goal to build the capital City of Cape Verde with solid and recognized work bridging the gap with infrastructure roads linking all the communities modernizing the City in order to begin the next phase of development. Equality and access to all citizens is a paramount for his mandate assuring a high quality of life for all.

Penny Abeywardena

New York City Commissioner for International Affairs

Penny Abeywardena is New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs. As head of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, she leads the City’s global platform for promoting its goals for a more just and accessible society, showcasing the diversity of New Yorkers and sharing policies and best practices with cities and states around the world.

Since her appointment in September 2014, the International Affairs team has launched a series of initiatives focused on connecting New Yorkers and City agencies to the diplomatic community, as well as more effectively serving NYC’s diplomatic corps, which is the largest in the world. Prior to joining Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, Penny was the Director of Girls and Women Integration at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a non-partisan organization that convened global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Penny joined CGI in 2009 and led the program’s evolution into one of CGI’s most successful efforts. While at CGI, Penny was responsible for the portfolio of CGI commitments focused on empowering girls and women worldwide, developing year-round programming and integrating the gender lens throughout the CGI platform. During her tenure, she advised multinational corporations, philanthropists, NGOs and multilateral institutions to increase investments in gender-focused development initiatives while expanding the community of CGI members who incorporated the gender lens in their work. Before joining CGI, Penny worked in both development and programmatic areas for Human Rights Watch, the Funding Exchange and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Development Corporation, the International Advisory Council of the International Peace Institute (IPI), the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization and is a Core Member of the United Nation’s SDG Strategy and Action Hub.  In her personal time, Penny serves on 92Y’s Innovation Advisory Committee and the Advisory Board of the Helm.

In 2017, Penny was named by the French American Foundation as a Young Leader. She is a World Economic Forum 2016 Young Global Leader, and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was a Founding Member of Lincoln Center’s Global Exchange and has previously served on the Hillary for America Policy Working Group on Global Women’s Issues, the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, and the Boards of Directors of Sakhi for South Asian Women, Global Partners, Inc., the Eastside Greenway and Park, and Resource Generation. Penny was a contributing author to Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change, and in 2012 was recognized by the United Nation’s Decide Now Act (DNA) Summit as one of 101 Global Innovators for her work to put women’s rights on the global political agenda. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and completed her Master of International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Emilia Saiz

Secretary-General of the United Cities and Local Governments

Secretary General, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)   Emilia Saiz is a jurist by profession and has devoted its professional life to promoting the role of local governments in development as well as fostering relations between cities and their associations worldwide.    She started her journey as local government international advocate in the founding organization of UCLG, IULA in 1997.  

She has led programmes dedicated to institutional capacity building and decentralized cooperation. She has actively promoted women empowerment, social inclusion and international partnerships.  

She played a critical role in setting up the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments and has followed and represented local and regional governments in iconic international processes such as the Rio and Beijing + 20 as well the Climate Agreement the SDGs and Hábitat III.  

She has further been deeply involved in the institutional development of United Cities and Local Governments into a network of networks. 

During her work in the World Organization she has been appointed to numerous panels both in her personal and professional capacity. Her involvement in Cities Alliance, the General Alliance of Partners and the Cities Programme of the Global Compact are worth highlighting.    Her mission as Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) started in 2018. When asked about her priorities for coming years she mentions: ensuring that the global agendas are built from local priorities and that international action of local governments is understood as an indispensable role to fulfill local needs with solidarity, justice and accountability at the centre. 

Shipra Narang Suri

Coordinator, Urban Planning and Design Branch, UN-Habitat

Dr. Shipra Narang Suri is an urban planner with a Ph.D. in Post-War Recovery Studies from the University of York, UK. She coordinates UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Design Branch, which is UN-Habitat’s largest thematic branch and portfolio. The work of the Branch covers themes such as regional and metropolitan planning, national urban policies, city planning, extension and design, public space, urban renewal, climate change action planning and building climate resilience for the poor, with extensive normative work and operational activities in over 40 countries.

Shipra has extensive experience in advising national and local governments, as well as private sector organisations and networks, on issues of urban planning and management, good urban governance and indicators, livability and sustainability of cities, urban safety, women and cities, as well as post-conflict/ post-disaster recovery. She is the former co-Chair of the World Urban Campaign, a platform that brings together a large array of global organisations to advocate for sustainable urbanisation, and the former Vice-President of the General Assembly of Partners, a platform established to bring stakeholder voices to Habitat III and in the drafting of the New Urban Agenda. She is also a former Vice-President of ISOCARP, the International Society of City and Regional Planners.

Shipra has worked with the United Nations, specifically, UN-HABITAT, UNDP, and UNESCO, as well as international NGOs and private sector organisations, for over two decades. She has worked across Asia, Africa, South Eastern Europe and the Middle-East. She has been involved in the development and execution of a variety of development, research and training projects and programmes, is a regular public speaker at national and international fora, and has several publications to her credit.

Tri Rismaharini

Mayor of Surabaya

Tri Rismaharini is the first female mayor of Surabaya. Before being elected as Mayor in 2010, she had served as government official in Surabaya City Government for more than 20 years. In 2003, when she was the Head of Surabaya Program Controlling Division, she implemented the first e-procurement system in Indonesia even prior to national direction. It makes Surabaya leading in e-government implementation and moving towards a smart city. Now she is in her second term as mayor.   

She is also known for her success to transform Surabaya from dirty and dry to green and clean city. She has started the hard work since she was the Head of Surabaya Public Cleanliness and Parks Department in 2005 by converting bare lands and gas stations into beautiful city parks. As a result, Surabaya won a number of national and international awards in environmental management as well as being an exemplary city for other cities in the region to learn from. In implementing most of urban management projects, Mayor Tri strongly invites public as well as stakeholders participation to make every program a success despite the limited financial resources available.

Being unique in leadership style, Mayor Tri has been featured in many national and international media and received many awards, including the Women Leader Award by Globe Asia in 2012 and listed as one of the 10 Inspiring Women 2013 by Forbes Indonesia. A mother of two, Tri Rismaharini believes that a city shall be home for its citizen and giving example is the best way to educate and engage the community.

She completed both her Bachelor’s Degree on Architecture (1987) and Master Degree on Urban Development Management in the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology, Surabaya (2002) as well as course on Urban Development Management in Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Rotterdam (1996). In 2015, she was granted the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology Surabaya.

Joan Ribó

Mayor of Valencia

Joan Ribó is the mayor of the city of Valencia (Spain) since June 13th, 2015. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona and is the capital of the Valencian Community. The mayor works to position city as a reference of urban sustainable development.

In October 2016, FAO and Valencia signed a Memorandum of Understanding aiming at exchanging information regarding policy experiences and technical expertise. Since then, the city has celebrated various activities to promote sustainable urban food policies and Mr. Ribó has participated in important events at the FAO Headquarters.

In 2017, Valencia hosted the third Annual Gathering and Mayors’ summit of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, with a successful participation of cities from all over the world.

The municipality of Valencia is immersed in a process of changing its agricultural and food policies for its surrounding green areas, with the goal of ending the process of degradation and destruction, using new policies based on the sustainable production of food, especially organic products, and on its distribution and sale in the city using mechanisms of local markets, farmers’ markets and others.

The city is becoming a national and international sustainability model.

The Mayor and FAO’s Director-General have announced the creation of a World Nutrition for Sustainable Food (CEMAS), in cooperation with FAO, that will be headquartered in Valencia and will be inaugurated in April 1st, 2019. 

Mike Sonko

Governor of Nairobi

H.E Kioko Mike Sonko Mbuvi Gideon is the Elected Governor of Nairobi City County (since August 2017).

He was born on January 1st 1973.

He was the Makadara Constituency Member of the National Assembly between 2010-2013 and thereafter served as:

The first elected Senator of Nairobi City County between 2013 and 2017.

He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Kenya Methodist University.

He is a family man.


Eugenie L. Birch

Professor of Urban Research and Education, University of Pennsylvania

Eugenie Birch is the Lawrence C. Nussdorf Chair of Urban Research and Education. She teaches courses in global urbanization and the doctoral seminar and serves as chair, Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning, co-director, Penn Institute for Urban Research, co-editor, City in the 21st Century Series, University of Penn Press and co-editor, SSRN Urban Research e-journal. With Penn IUR she recently completed a project “Entreprenuership & Innovation in Connecticut’s Higher Education System,” for the state of Connecticut.

Professor Birch’s current research focuses on global urbanization with her most recent publications being:  Slums, How Informal Real Estate Markets Work, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press (2016) (edited with Susan Wachter, Shahana Chattaraj); “Midterm Report: Will Habitat III Make a Difference to Global Urban Development?” Journal of the American Planning Association 84:4 (Fall 2016); “The Institutions of Metropolitan Governance,” in D.A. Gomez-Alvarez, E. Moreno and R. Rajack (eds), Steering the Metropolis: Metropolitan Governance for Sustainable Urban Development (Nairobi: UN Habitat, 2017); “Inclusion and Innovation: The Many Forms of Stakeholder Engagement in Habitat III,” Citiscape (July 2017); “Implementing the New Urban Agenda in the United States, Building on a Firm Foundation,” Informationen zur Raumentwicklung (Information on Spatial Development) (Summer 2017).

Professor Birch has been active in the field’s professional and civic organizations in the United States and abroad. She is president, General Assembly of Partners (GAP), the engagement platform for the implementation of the UN’s New Urban Agenda and associated global agreements, co-chair, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Group on Cities, and an Associate Editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. In the past, she has been president, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; president, Society of American City and Regional Planning History; president, International Planning History Society; and co-editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. She has been a member of the Planning Accreditation Board, having served as its chair from 2004-2006. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Planning Theory and Practice, Journal of Planning History, Journal of Planning Education and Research and Planning Perspectives. In the early 1990s, she was a member of the New York City Planning Commission, and in 2002, she served on the jury to select the designers for the World Trade Center site. She has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Art Society of New York and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Regional Plan Association of New York.

Professor Birch lectures widely. She has been Visiting Scholar, Queens University, Ontario, Canada; Foreign Scholar, University of Hong Kong; and Visiting Professor, University of the Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. In May 2017, she delivered the keynote address, “Making Cities Safe, Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable,” at the Dresden Nexus Conference, Dresden, Germany and “Post Habitat III Stakeholder Engagement: An Update” at the Wilson Center, Washington, DC.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning has given her its three awards: the Distinguished Educator Award in recognition of her teaching and research (2009), the Jay Chatterjee Award for Distinguished Service that “recognizes an individual whose exceptional service, actions and leadership have had a lasting and positive impact on the ACSP”(2006), and the Margarita McCoy Award, “in recognition of her outstanding contribution to furthering the advancement of women in the planning academy” (1994). The Society of American City and Regional Planning History awarded her its Lawrence C. Gerckens Prize (2009) in recognition of her contributions to planning history. The American Planning Association honored her with their APA President’s Award in 2013.  This award is given out every other year in recognition of leadership in the field of planning. In 2000, she was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners and made a member (honorary) of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

Enrique Yeves

Director, Office for Corporate Communications (FAO)

Enrique Yeves is a recognized communications specialist in international relations and has developed an extensive professional career in both the international media and the United Nations system.

Currently he is Director of Communications at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Rome (Italy) and previously his wide experience includes his work as Head of UN Television in New York; Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly; and Director of FAO’s office in Madrid, Spain.

As a journalist Enrique Yeves has worked for Spanish Television (TVE) in Spain and for the BBC and Reuters in London. Currently he writes opinion articles regularly for the Spanish newspaper El País and Le Monde Diplomatique.

He is author of several books, including “El Año que Vivimos Atrevidamente” (The Year We lived Daringly) product of his experience as Spokesperson for the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto, between 2008-2009. His first book, ‘La Contra: una guerra sucia’ (The Contras: A Dirty War), Ediciones B, Barcelona 1989, was awarded the prestigious 1990 Reporter Prize.

In 2018 Yeves coordinated and supervised a series of 11 books called “El Estado del Planeta” (“The State of the Planet”), a joint publication between El País and FAO on the challenges that humankind faces over the coming decades. 


3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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