Thematic Session: Bolstering local action to control the pandemic and accelerate implementation
Co-conveners: DESA, UNECE, UNESCAP, UN-Habitat and UNODC.

External experts listed on this page and the following United Nations entities have also contributed to the workstream: CBD, ECLAC, ICAO, IOM, ITU, OSAA, UNDP, UNDRR, UNEP, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRISD, WFP, WMO and UN-Women.

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 Thursday, 9 July 2020 Annotated Programme as of 22 June 2020 11 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.

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 subnational 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?

Participants
Mr. Brian Mark Evans
Chief Urbanist, City of Glasgow, UK
Mr. Brian Mark Evans

Chief Urbanist, City of Glasgow, UK

Brian Mark Evans is a geographer, urban and regional planner, landscape designer and urbanist. He is professor of urbanism and landscape at the Glasgow School of Art and Director of the Glasgow Urban Laboratory Research Group, Scotland, UK. In 2019, he was appointed City Urbanist for Glasgow, to act in a civic role as independent strategic adviser on people, design and the city to the City’s leadership team. He has a doctorate in urbanism and design awarded by the University of Glasgow.

He is an adviser to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and was lead writer for the Habitat III Regional Report on Housing and Urban Development in the Economic Commission for Europe Region (UNECE).
Professor Evans has worked in North America, European and Scandinavia countries, the Russian Federation, Turkey, the Balkans and the Peoples Republic of China. He is a widely published author on urbanism, the future city and the inherited landscape and a founder of the Academy of Urbanism for the UK and Ireland. From 1989-2015 he was a senior partner with an international practice of landscape architects and urban designers based in Glasgow, London and internationally.

Mr. Davor Meersman
CEO, Open and Agile Smart Cities
Mr. Davor Meersman

CEO, Open and Agile Smart Cities

Mr. Edgardo Bilsky
Director of Programs and Research, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
Mr. Edgardo Bilsky

Director of Programs and Research, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)

Edgardo Bilsky is the director of research at United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG, headquarters in Barcelona, Spain) and coordinates UCLG’s triennial flagship report, the Global Report on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD). Born in Argentina, he has a Masters in History from the University of Paris VII and from the High Level School of Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris. He joined UCLG at its foundation as a global organization in 2004, having been director for Latin America, since 1990, at the World Federation of United Cities, one of UCLG’s two founding organizations. In the 90’s, he led different projects on support to decentralization and local development in Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Salvador) and in Dominican Republic (for the European Commission). Prior to this in the 80’s, he conducted research and taught at the University of Paris and Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Mr. Fabiano Angélico
Consultant, International Asset Recovery, The World Bank
Mr. Fabiano Angélico

Consultant, International Asset Recovery, The World Bank

Mr. Hossain Taufique
Director, Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Bangladesh
Mr. Hossain Taufique

Director, Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Bangladesh

Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi
Secretary General, UCLG Africa
Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi

Secretary General, UCLG Africa

Mr. Junichi Fujino
Principal Researcher/ Program Director, City Taskforce Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
Mr. Junichi Fujino

Principal Researcher/ Program Director, City Taskforce Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan

Mr. Luigi Cuna
Senior Evaluator, Council of Europe Development Bank
Mr. Luigi Cuna

Senior Evaluator, Council of Europe Development Bank

Luigi Cuna has a doctorate degree in Law and Economics from the University of Bologna. He worked for a number of years as a freelance consultant in monitoring and evaluation of development programmes. From 2006 to 2008, he worked at the Programme Management Department of the International Fund for Agricultural Development where he contributed to the setting-up of several tools for portfolio-level monitoring and evaluation, and subsequently joined the Independent Office of Evaluation. Since 2011, he has been working as Senior Evaluator at the Office of Evaluation of the Council of Europe Development Bank, based in Paris, where he completed a multi-year evaluation cycle dealing with housing programs targeted to vulnerable population. He has also completed evaluations in the fields of small and medium enterprises, judicial infrastructure and CEB’s engagement with migrants and refugees.

Mr. Mwangi Waituru
Regional Policy and Advocacy Advisor for Africa, oluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
Mr. Mwangi Waituru

Regional Policy and Advocacy Advisor for Africa, oluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

Mr. Tony Pipa
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute
Mr. Tony Pipa

Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute

Ms. Alice Siragusa
Team Leader, Joint Research Centre, European Commission
Ms. Alice Siragusa

Team Leader, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Alice Siragusa is the team leader of the JRC project on Localising SDGs. She works at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission since 2015. In the Territorial development Unit, she focuses on the knowledge support to urban policies and she has been editing and authoring “the Future of Cities” report and the “European Handbook for SDGs Voluntary Local Reviews”.

At the JRC, she has also been working for the Global Human Settlement Layer project contributing to the Human Planet 2016 and 2017 Atlases.

In the past, she has been collaborating with the Italian National Planning Institute (INU) on several activities related to the Sustainable Development Goals and public space. She co-led the Habitat III Policy Unit 6 on Urban Spatial Strategies: Land Market and Segregation.

She has been visitor scholar at the Columbia University in New York City. She holds a PhD in Regional and Urban Planning from Sapienza University of Rome, and a Master cum lauda in Architecture and Urban Design from the University of Roma Tre.

Ms. Celine d’Cruz
Visiting Researcher, International Centre for Climate Change and Development and Vice President Block by Block Foundation
Ms. Celine d’Cruz

Visiting Researcher, International Centre for Climate Change and Development and Vice President Block by Block Foundation

Celine d’Cruz is an urban practitioner & began her career as a community development organizer
working with migrant communities living on the pavements of Mumbai, through her NGO
(SPARC) Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers, of which she is a founding member.
Celine is one of the founding members for Slum Dwellers International (SDI) which is a network
of urban poor federations which she co-founded in 1996. She has years of experience building
the capacity of urban poor communities, especially women, to obtain secure housing and basic
municipal services in over 200 cities and towns in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Urban poor
networks in these countries have collaborated with their respective local and national governments
to provide housing and gain effective and sustainable access to services such as sanitation,
health, education and energy.
In 2003-2004, Celine was chosen to the Yale World Fellows Program, Yale University, USA and
subsequently spent time at IIED London as a visiting fellow with the Human Settlements team.
From 2009 to 2010, seconded by SDI, Celine was invited to serve as an Urban Specialist of the
World Bank’s, Cities Alliance Group in Washington, D.C. where she supported the design, implementation
and supervision of slum upgrading strategies in programs in Uganda, Vietnam
and the Philippines.
Since 2016 she worked with the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights supporting the work of the
urban poor federation in Cambodia with their local and national government. She was then part
of the capacity building team on slum enumerations and mapping for 6 countries in Asia.
Presently she serves a Board Member and Director of the Block-By-Block, a foundation supported
by Microsoft (Seattle) and Mojang/Minecraft (Stockholm) focusing on the development of
public spaces agenda with UN Habitat for vulnerable groups in cities.
She is also on the advisory group of Utopia, an urban innovation lab based in San Francisco,
USA working in parts of Africa and Asia.
Recently, Celine has joined the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD),
Bangladesh as visiting researcher where she will be working more closely on the Local led
adaptation agenda and will be part of the design team to set up and build a Climate Bridge
Fund in 10 countries.
Celine lives between Mumbai and Beijing.

Ms. Eugenie Birch
Co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research, University of Pennsylvania
Ms. Eugenie Birch

Co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research, University of Pennsylvania

Ms. Jane Katz
Director of International Affairs and Programs, Habitat for Humanity International
Ms. Jane Katz

Director of International Affairs and Programs, Habitat for Humanity International

Jane Katz has provided expertise in global housing policy, urban, and land-related issues as Director of International Affairs and Programs in Habitat for Humanity International’s Washington D.C. Office of Government Relations and Advocacy for close to twenty years. Her work has included advocating for housing policy issues around the Sustainable Development Goals, Habitat III-the New Urban Agenda, Habitat’s “Solid Ground” campaign, and the Stand for Her Land campaign. She has led the Global Housing Policy Indicators assessment tool and works with stakeholder partners and coalitions at the United Nations and other international organizations. Previously, Ms. Katz worked in the public and private sectors at Fannie Mae and in United States government agencies, such as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She received her Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics in urban affairs and public administration from the University of Maryland and Bachelor of Art’s Degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Cincinnati. She serves on a variety of advisory boards and coalitions, including the International Advisory Board of the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) as co-lead of the Urban Cluster; Vice President of Global Urban Development; Co-Chair of the General Assembly of Partners Civil Society Group; represents CSOs on the standing committee of UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Campaign; and the UNDRR Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism Advisory Group.

Ms. Mabel Bianco
President of Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer
Ms. Mabel Bianco

President of Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer

Mabel Bianco is a feminist medical doctor, MPH and specializing in Epidemiology. Founder and President of FEIM since 1989 an NGO working to improve women's rights in Argentina and the LAC region. She is co coordinator of the Women Won’t Wait –WWW- a global campaign to eliminate VAW and HIV and Coordinator of the International Women AIDS Caucus an International –IAWC. In 1983 she created the Women, Health and Development Program at the National Ministry of Health. She attended the Beijing Conference in 1995 and since then works for its implementation. She is member of many global, regional and national women’s right networks. Member of the UNAIDS Reference group on HIV and Human Rights from 2002-2011. In 2009-2012 she was GEAR Campaign Focal Point for LAC. Since 2012 she was elected member of the Civil Society Regional Advisory Committee to UN Women. In 2012, she founded and is Co-Chair of the CoNGO CSW LAC. Since 2013 is member of the Women Major Group. She is the author of 8 books and more than 150 published papers and articles.

Ms. Maria Teresa Rodriguez-Blandon
National facilitator, Huairou Commission
Ms. Maria Teresa Rodriguez-Blandon

National facilitator, Huairou Commission

Ms. Norliza Hashim
Chief Executive, Urbanice Malaysia
Ms. Norliza Hashim

Chief Executive, Urbanice Malaysia

Ms. Rachel Locke
Director, Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego
Ms. Rachel Locke

Director, Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego

Rachel Locke is Director of Impact:Peace at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, University of San Diego. Rachel has extensive experience delivering evidence-based violence prevention solutions to some of the most difficult international contexts while simultaneously advancing policy for peace. Prior to joining IPJ, Rachel was Head of Research for violence prevention with the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies at New York University's Center on International Cooperation. In this capacity, Rachel led coalition building and evidence curation with the UN, bilateral governments, the African Union, civil society and others to explore the challenge of delivering the 2030 Agenda targets for peaceful societies.

Earlier in her career, Rachel served as Senior Policy Advisor with the US Agency for International Development where she developed and represented agency-wide policy on issues concerning conflict, violence and fragility. She also led USAID research and policy on crime, conflict, and fragility and worked extensively on program design, implementation and evaluation primarily in Africa.

After leaving USAID, Rachel launched a new area of work for the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, bridging effective violence reduction approaches from the U.S. to municipalities globally. This work involved direct collaboration with law enforcement, national and city-level government and civil society actors. Among other initiatives, Rachel launched a three-year effort across two states and five municipalities in Mexico at a time of exceptionally high violence. Rachel's experience bridges the humanitarian, development, peacebuilding and urban violence realms. She holds a Master's in International Affairs from Columbia University, Graduate School of International and Public Affairs. She has also published a variety of articles and other works focusing on violence prevention, humanitarian aid, conflict and transnational organized crime.

Ms. Sarah Bentz
Policy Officer for SDGs, Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and PLATFORMA
Ms. Sarah Bentz

Policy Officer for SDGs, Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and PLATFORMA

Having started her career as a Committee Coordinator within the Assembly of European Regions, Sarah has always been convinced of the crucial role that local and regional governments play in the active and efficient implementation of international, European and national agendas. Her work as Senior Programme Manager within the European think tank “Friends of Europe” allowed for her to acquire additional skills on International Development, Health, Climate and Energy as well as the Balkans. Within the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and PLATFORMA, Sarah is currently in charge of coordinating, mainstreaming and further enhancing the work done on the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals both in Europe as well as with peers in partner countries across the globe, a pre-requisite to achieving the 2030 Agenda.

She holds a double Masters’ degree in French and English European Union law from the University of Strasbourg (France) and the University of Leicester (UK), as well as a French-German Master in European Politics at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Strasbourg, and the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt-an-der Oder (Germany).

Ms. Sylvia Croese
Researcher, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town
Ms. Sylvia Croese

Researcher, African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town

Dr. Sylvia Croese is an urban sociologist who is a research associate with the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and a senior researcher at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Her research interests, experience and publications include work on urban politics and governance through the lens of housing, land, urban infrastructure and mobility, with a focus on Southern and Lusophone Africa. She has conducted extensive research on the localization and implementation of global urban policy in African cities, particularly the SDGs. Among others, she has served as an embedded researcher in the City of Cape Town as part of the Mistra Urban Futures research project Implementing the New Urban Agenda and The Sustainable Development Goals: Comparative Urban Perspectives as well as the PEAK Urban Research Programme. She has consulted for UCLG and is also the Principal Investigator in the LIRA Agenda 2030 research project Co-producing urban knowledge in Angola and Mozambique through community-led data collection towards meeting SDG 11.

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