Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly
28 April 2022
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to welcome you to today’s High-level Meeting on “Assessing the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.”
While cities have and continue to serve as centres of creativity, scientific research, economic growth, and innovation, they are at the same time a source of complex challenges – presenting issues around population growth, environmental sustainability, social services and equality, to name a few.
It is somewhat surprising, then, that the New Urban Agenda, designed to address many of these challenges, has often been an
under-appreciated framework, despite its global and far-ranging implications for an ever-urbanizing global population.
We should not underestimate this oversight.
While sustainable urbanization is related to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals, only a few countries can truly claim that they have in place the governance, and the necessary policies, including on inclusive urban planning, capacity development, technology access, and financing necessary, to ensure sustainable urbanization.
My friends, we need to change this trend.
The New Urban Agenda is the best tool we have to manage all the risks and opportunities for our vibrant and growing cities.
The preparatory process I established for this meeting, including the Advisory Board on Sustainable Urbanization, allows us to give this Agenda the attention it deserves.
I am deeply grateful that so many high-level national representatives, as well as city mayors, are with us today.
Nothing can replace face-to-face diplomacy and decision-making. And there is no better approach, than a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, that addresses challenges, and includes policymakers at the global, regional, national, sub-national and local levels.
Planning, financing and implementing resilient and sustainable infrastructure projects and services that our populations depend on requires better coordination at all levels.
Greater cooperation, knowledge-sharing and capacity support among mayors and cities themselves is needed.
Let me also take this opportunity to thank His Excellency, Ambassador Collen Vixen Kelapile, the President of ECOSOC, for convening the Special Meeting on 21 April.
Using the Charter body’s institutional lens, that meeting assessed the UN system-wide strategy for the New Urban Agenda and highlighted how urbanization inequalities affect developed and developing countries alike.
I look forward to His Excellency sharing with us, today, the main insights from those insightful discussions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
More robust cooperation at all levels and layers of UN Membership, and across regions with all relevant stakeholders, is vital for accelerating the New Urban Agenda.
This includes mobilizing millions of urban professionals, such as architects, engineers, and urban planners, and leveraging every level of the UN system, including the Resident Coordinators and the Regional Economic Commissions.
The mandating resolution for today’s meeting underscores this point and encourages deliberations by Regional Sustainable Development Forums to serve as an input for today’s discussions.
The core message of these Forums is clear:
The ever rising human and financial costs associated with more frequent and severe disasters trap countries in cycles of emergency response. This inhibits local and national leaders from prioritizing long-term sustainable development.
The Forums also stressed that improving environmental quality in cities requires addressing water scarcity and sanitation; sustainable transportation; sustainable production and consumption; energy efficiency; and waste management; among others.
I strongly urge the membership to consistently consider practical and results-oriented approaches when creating mandates so that these meetings serve their intended purpose.
These approaches, including the best practices, could, in turn, galvanize political momentum, accelerate existing multi-stakeholder partnerships, and build foundations for new coalitions.
Sustainable urbanization can drive change across a variety of interconnected issues including poverty eradication; climate action; migration; land degradation; economic prosperity; and creation of peaceful societies.
It is my hope that our discussions today, will not only further inform Member States’ engagement in other high-level meetings – from migration and climate change, to the World Urban Forum and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, – but will also refresh Member States’ commitment to implementing the New Urban Agenda, with renewed interest and purpose.
Let us continue to work together to ensure that 2022 is a milestone year for the New Urban Agenda.
I thank you.