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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

14 July 2023

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

A warm welcome to all of you. It is a pleasure to join you for this side event on Regional Approaches to Building urban resilience and responding to crises through SDGs localization.   

I am pleased to be joined by colleagues from the UN Regional Commissions and from UN-Habitat, who have all worked together to organize this session.

As this year’s High-Level Political Forum is reviewing progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, we are focusing our attention on how cities are building capacities to contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.

What is common across these global agendas, and in all regions, is that they cannot and will not be achieved without local actions.  

We know that the SDGs intersect in cities, where the issues of poverty and inequalities are most visible, where infrastructure needs and gaps contribute to congestion, where air pollution is most intense and where demand for energy continues to grow.   

Cities also have the greatest potential for innovation, for emissions reductions from low-carbon development, for provision of services, for fostering inclusive economic growth, and for building resilience. 

So as we face multiple crises, we look to our cities to provide leadership.

Many cities are taking steps to create more sustainable and resilient communities, driving recoveries and developing urban solutions that address their unique vulnerabilities and capitalize on their strengths.  

Cities - heavily impacted by the pandemic - have recognized the need to minimize risks from future shocks and realized the importance of the SDG framework as a guide to a more sustainable urban future.

Context matters, and while the challenges and opportunities are common in cities across all regions, systems, stakeholders and solutions vary. In this spirit, each of the Regional Commissions has worked jointly with cities to share common approaches and learnings while providing region-specific and local guidance.

Each of the Regional Commissions has been working to assist cities in understanding the process – and the value—of undertaking Voluntary Local Reviews.

Through support from the UN Development Account, the Commissions have worked with UN-Habitat and the UN Capital Development Fund to develop resilience-building strategies and boost the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, an accelerator for the SDGs. 

How we meet the challenges of urbanization now, especially in the face of multiple crises, will affect future development trajectories for decades. 

Each city faces specific challenges, whether it is affordable housing, risks from disasters such as flooding, urban mobility options or environmental degradation.

If continued urbanization is not well-managed, the liveability of these communities is at risk. The SDG framework provides a clear lens for creating liveable and sustainable communities.

Localization of the SDGs presents an opportunity to look not only at spatial or physical characteristics but the full social, economic and environmental aspects of a community.

On local climate and clean air action in particular, cities require a stronger enabling environment, including integration among national, subnational and local authorities and engagement with financial institutions and international organizations.

Only 10 per cent of climate finance is implemented at the city level, yet we know local actions can generate significant returns., Without local action, we will drive emissions well past the point where we can achieve the 1.5 degree target. 

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

In our urbanized world, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities are fundamental to a sustainable future.

Our collective task is to ensure that all urban residents in all regions see and enjoy that future. Today, we will hear from representatives from all regions, who will highlight the role of localization in building resilient communities. 

I would like to thank you again for joining and I look forward to the discussion. 

Thank you very much.

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