Bolstering local action to control the pandemic and accelerate implementation
Thursday, 9 July 2020
9:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Virtually (held New York time)

Official meeting

In the Political Declaration adopted at the 2019 SDG Summit, Member States reaffirmed the critical role of cities, local authorities and communities in implementing and realizing the SDGs and committed to empowering and supporting them in pursuing the 2030 Agenda. While SDG 11 on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable provides a clear set of targets and indicators for local and regional governments and communities to strive towards, their contributions will be critical throughout all the 17 SDGs.

If current trends continue, by 2050 cities will host approximately 70 per cent of the world’s population and produce 85 per cent of global economic output. While rapid urbanization poses a number of challenges, cities also offer the opportunity to achieve multiple SDGs at scale and with efficiency.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has added unprecedented and unique challenges for cities, including pressure on their health care, education and safety systems, and disproportionally affected the most vulnerable groups of the society, including women and girls facing multiple discrimination. It also poses threats to rural areas that research and data has shown are often left behind in the development compared to cities.

The pandemic has highlighted the important role of local governments as the provider of services in closest proximity to people. The recovery phase from the pandemic will represent an opportunity for all levels of government, including local and regional governments, to build back more inclusive, equal, resilient and sustainable societies, as laid out in the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Proposed guiding questions:

  • How can the SDG framework support response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen preparedness for future pandemics at the local level? How have urbanization challenges changed, and what are the implications of the pandemic for urban planning, resilience strategies, deployment of technologies for connectivity? How to secure financing for the recovery?
  • What are the innovative actions and partnerships that cities, local authorities and rural communities are undertaking in their SDG implementation? How can we ensure that local actions are truly transformative?
  • What actions can countries take to ensure that SDG implementation at the sub-national level is effectively reported and monitored in national efforts, including VNRs? How can sub-national and local reviews support SDG implementation and what mechanisms could ensure coherence among sub-national and national actions?
  • What type of capacity building and support is required to ensure that cities, local authorities and rural communities are empowered to implement the SDGs?
  • How can developing countries better manage the surge of urbanisation to make cities more productive, sustainable and equitable thus enabling attainment of SDGs?
  • What is the role of science, technology and innovation in the transformation to sustainable and equitable urban systems, which also incorporate and address informality and help overcome the digital divide?


  • H.E. Ambassador Juan Sandoval, Mexico, Vice President of ECOSOC


  • Mr. Gino Van Begin, Secretary General, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI)

Resource persons:

  • Ms. Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Mr. Yūji Kuroiwa, Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan  

Lead discussants:

  • Ms. Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of ECE
  • Mr. Santiago del Hierro, Architect and Researcher, Ecuador
  • Ms. Mabel Bianco, President, Fundacion para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer, Argentina (Women's Major Group)     

Followed by interactive discussion

Ministerial respondents:

  • Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat
  • Ms. Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for International Affairs, New York City, US
United Nations