November 28, 2022
Cities share how they are implementing local actions to accelerate towards Sustainable Development Goals.
The SDG Cities Global Conference took place on November 1st, 2022 with many attendees joining virtually from different parts of the world. The conference succeeded World Cities Day, the final day of Urban October, which is a month-long event from the United Nations to address sustainable urbanization.
The purpose of the conference was to focus on local actions to achieve global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 11: Sustainable Cities.
The conference commenced with opening remarks from Chenglei Peng, a representative of the City of Shanghai, as well as Rafael Tuts, Deputy Executive Director at UN-Habitat, and Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. Then, the attention was turned on the cities themselves.
Helder Silva, the President of the Municipality of Mafra, shared three examples of how his city in Portugal promotes sustainable tourism, generating local economic opportunities while strengthening cultural identity and harmony with nature, including the Ericeira “World Surfing Reserve,” which protects surf zones, waves, and surrounding environments. The second example was the Mafra Sustainable Tourism Destination, which commits to working with local collaborators to develop tourism which balances human activities with cultural heritage and environmental protection. The third example was the declaration of the Marine Protected Area.
The conversation then moved to peaceful, healthy, and socially cohesive communities. In their journey towards net-zero emissions, Ana Oregi Bastarrika, Deputy Mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain, explained how, by building a green belt around the city, they were able to create a system of green spaces which were easily accessible to city residents.
In their aspiration towards becoming the “green capital” of their country, Allen Coliban, Mayor of Brasov in Romania, explained their integrated approach towards health. Although their city is home to many hospitals and medical schools, health encompasses more than just medicine and is treated as a holistic viewpoint towards all aspects of life.
Fatma Mahmoud, Mayor of Ennour in Tunisia, spoke about urban transformation for people, planet, prosperity, and peace, and how she believes that unity between governments and their citizens is critical to make cities better places to live and help them overcome their challenges.
Penang, in Malaysia, was recently awarded Silver Certification through the SDG Cities Global Initiative. Hamdan Majeed, Executive Director of Think City Malaysia, expressed the city’s desire to lead in becoming a family-first, green, and smart state through the SDG Cities Model.
La Paz, in Bolivia, was the first city to be awarded Gold Certification through the SDG Cities Global Initiative. Iván Arias, Mayor of La Paz, spoke on the benefits of being part of the program. SDG Cities is seen as model to guide government and city planning to better align with the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2030. The cities vision revolves around the 4 key themes: Participation, inclusivity, co-responsibility, and integrity. This has empowered city’s ability to create spaces for dialogue and subsequent social cohesion with and between communities.
This was followed shortly by Esteban Torres Haro from the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing of Ecuador, who announced that 14 cities in Ecuador have joined the SDG Cities Programme. He also revealed that there will be an office in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, which will be dedicated to UN-Habitat and will serve as a Testing Lab for the SDG Cities National Hub.