13 November 2020

Local, Regional Governments Key to Harnessing Urbanization’s Transformative Power, Secretary-General Tells World Council of United Cities

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the World Council of United Cities and Local Governments, held today:

Dear friends,

It is a pleasure to greet the World Council of United Cities and Local Governments at this critical juncture in world affairs.  Cities, metropolitan areas and local governments are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 90 per cent of the cases registered in urban areas.

We also face a climate crisis, collapsing biodiversity, widening inequalities and intensifying environmental degradation.  Our solutions need to be holistic, and the local space is the perfect place to connect the dots.

As UN-Habitat’s recently launched World Cities Report 2020 indicates, local and regional governments have a key role to play in harnessing the transformative power of urbanization.  Your policies, regulations and fiscal incentives can drive the transition away from fossil fuels and carbon-intensive energy systems.  You can advance action on transport, food systems and social cohesion.

Regional and local governments cannot do it alone.  But, you can hold your national Governments to account on their climate and sustainable development commitments, including by pushing for action to achieve carbon neutrality — net‑zero emissions — by 2050.

I reiterate my call to Member States and all development partners to put local and regional governments at the centre of green and resilient recovery efforts.  Recovery packages and other public spending should boost local government capacity.  This work requires deeper cooperation and collaboration between local, national and international institutions.

I thank United Cities and Local Governments for its partnership with Local2030, and for its commitment to the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The choices we make today will shape the next 30 years and beyond.  The United Nations will count on you to help us shape the right choices in building a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient world for all.

Thank you again for your support.

For information media. Not an official record.