SALT LAKE CITY, 28 August — At a first-of-its-kind United Nations gathering in the western United States, representatives of non-governmental and faith-based organizations, as well as educators, students and individual activists from Utah and around the world adopted today an outcome document outlining a global vision for inclusive and sustainable cities and communities by 2030, with youth drafting and adopting a stand-alone climate compact.
María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador), President of the General Assembly, told participants during the closing plenary session: “In our increasingly interdependent world, where shocks in one country can affect the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, it seems clear that we need more cooperation, not less.” She declared: “It is a great honour to be the first President of the General Assembly to receive a UN Civil Society Conference outcome document. And you can count on me to be your advocate.”
The sixty-eighth United Nations Civil Society Conference was a milestone moment upon which to build momentum leading up to the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit and the high-level week of the General Assembly in September, when the implementation status of the Sustainable Development Goals will also be a focus.
Maruxa Cardama, Conference Chair and Secretary-General of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transportation, said: “Safe and sustainable cities and communities are not a dream, but wholly within our grasp if we work together as a global community and empower civil society.” She added that there is no contradiction between embracing global goals to promote prosperity for all and protect our planet and maintaining local traditions and national sovereignty. “The outcomes of this Conference demonstrate the resolve of civil society across the world to play an active role in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11 in their vision for Government and private sector accountability, and concrete suggestions for individual action.”
The theme of the sixty-eighth United Nations Civil Society Conference, “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities”, reflects the fact that more than half the world’s population, some 55 per cent, now live in urban areas, with that figure expected to rise to 68 per cent by 2050. Salt Lake City’s track record on inclusion and sustainability, as well as its experience in hosting international events, were factors that supported its hosting of the Conference.
Jackie Biskupski, Mayor of Salt Lake City, declared: “Salt Lake City’s track record for defending individual human rights, taking action to address the global climate emergency and protect the health of our people and our environment is undeniable.” She added that she was grateful that the world had come to Salt Lake City for this important conversation and honoured by the opportunity to highlight the city’s achievements on an international stage. “As Mayor, I offer you my unwavering commitment to the ongoing work of our vibrant civil society and to the inspiring youth who play a central role in mitigating the effects of climate change and building a sustainable world.”
Dozens of representatives from civil society organizations based in New York, Utah and elsewhere came together to plan and organize the massive endeavour in partnership with the United Nations. Fannie Munlin, Chair of the NGO Executive Committee, said: “It is up to civil society now to put our words into action and show results. We have 10 more years to achieve the SDGs and partnerships like this one that give voice to NGOs are critical for success.”
Youth representatives played a leadership role across the process of planning the Conference, developing a key thematic session on opportunity and employment for youth, programming a dedicated youth hub and organizing community events, among other initiatives. Some 40 per cent of Conference attendees were aged 32 years and under. Katelyn Grano and Mario Organista, Co-chairs of the Youth Planning Committee, said: “We are grateful to the United Nations for acknowledging our role as partners, empowering us to demonstrate our leadership and offering us a platform to raise our collective voice on issues that affect or lives today as well as our future.”
This is the first time the Conference has been held in the United States, outside of United Nations Headquarters in New York. The event was co-planned and co-hosted by the United Nations, the NGO Executive Committee [legally known as the NGO/DPI Executive Committee] and Salt Lake City. Key partners included Utah Valley University, United Nations Association of the United States of America, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and LDS Charities.
Conference outcomes are subject to global consultations leading up to and during the three-day event and were adopted by acclamation at the closing session.
For full information about Conference sessions, please visit www.un.org/csc2019, and follow #UNCSC2019.
For the conference outcomes, please visit https://outreach.un.org/ngorelations/content/68th-united-nations-civil-society-conference-outcome-statement.
For further information, please contact Jeffrey Brez, Co-Chair of the Conference Planning Committee and Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications, at tel.: +1 917 328 6736; or email firstname.lastname@example.org; or Matthew Rojas, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, Salt Lake City Corporation, at tel.: +1 801 535 6040, or mobile: +1 385 228 2365.