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UN75 and beyond: Inclusive Multilateralism and Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) as a Tool

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In September 2019, the Secretary General of the United Nations launched the Decade of Action that focuses on global action, local action and people action, in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Throughout 2020, the United Nations is marking its 75th Anniversary, at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. In July 2020, the UN Secretary General further released his “COVID-19 in Urban World” Policy Brief which focus on tackling inequalities, strengthening capacities, pursuing a green recovery.

Adopted in 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are essential components of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. High level ownership by national governments, convergence between development and sustainability agendas, and ensuring synergy between SDG:11 (Sustainable Cities) with the New Urban Agenda adopted at HABITATIII in 2016 position the SDGs as the much needed momentum to deliver the vision of the Agenda 21 for sustainability at the Earth Summit in 1992. Within this scope, national governments are voluntary submitting their national reviews in the SDG to the United Nations at the annual High Level Political Forum.

Since 2018 with the first global review of SDG:11 and in particular with the momentum created by the New York City Voluntary Local Review Declaration, a growing number of local and regional governments are preparing and submitting their VLRs to the UN. The process is further supported by the release of the VLR Guidelines by the UN-Habitat and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) in 2020.

The preparation of the VLRs and their vertical integration with the VNRs become even more important considering launch of Decade of Sustainability Action in 2019 by the UN Secretary General where local action constitutes one of the three pillars, the call for “inclusive multilateralism” along with the 75th Anniversary of the United Nation, as well as opportunities for building back better through the COVID-19 recovery processes in synergies to address climate and biodiversity emergency.

On the occasion of 24 October the UN Day, the event was designed as a dialogue among urban leaders and UN officials to explore the innovative options to seize the opportunities of the urban world in order to deliver the prospects of an inclusive multilateralism towards 2030 with a specific focus on Voluntary Local Reviews as an innovative tool. The session also hosted the official release of the Voluntary Local Review of City of Bonn, which formed the basis of a discussion on options of multilevel collaboration in the preparation of Germany´s second Voluntary National Review to be submitted to the UN in 2021.

Master of ceremony

  • Yunus Arikan, Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI World Secretariat

Opening remarks

  • H.E. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the UN

Session-1: UN75 and Inclusive Multilateralism

  • Moderator: Yunus Arikan, Director of Global Advocacy, ICLEI World Secretariat
  • Keynote: Martin Frick, Deputy Special Envoy, 2021 UN Food Systems Summit
  • Presentation: Emilia Saiz, Secretary General, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG)
  • ICLEI Blueprint: Frank Cownie, Mayor, Des Moines, USA; Member of ICLEI Global Executive Committee and UN Spokesperson

Session-2: City of Bonn Joining the Movement of Voluntary Local Reviews

  • Moderator: Shipra Narang Suri, Chief, Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat
  • Keynote: Ashok Sridharan, Mayor, Bonn, Germany; President, ICLEI
  • Statement: Maimunah Sharif, Executive Director, UN-Habitat
  • Statement: Marvin Rees, Mayor, Bristol, UK
  • Statement: Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for International Affairs, Office of the Mayor, New York City, USA
  • Response-1: Stephany Uy Tan, Councilor, Catbalogan, Philippines; Member of ICLEI Global Executive Committee and UN Spokesperson
  • Response-2: Manuel Araujo, Mayor, Quelimane, Mozambique; Africa Representative at ICLEI Global Executive Committee
  • Statement: Riina Jussila, Sustainable Development Officer in DESA Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UNDESA

Session-3: German Experience of Inclusive Multilateralism: A Vision for National and Global Engagement

  • Moderator: Simona Costanzo Sow, Learning Portfolio Manager, UN SSC Knowledge Center for Sustainable Development
  • Panelists:
    • Stefan Wagner, Head, International Relations and Global Sustainability, Germany’s UN City of Bonn
    • Sabine Drees, German Association of Cities (DST)
    • Marc Oliver Pahl, German Council for Sustainable Development (RNE)
    • Peter Lange, Foreign Federal Office, Germany

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