Cities can : Accelerating progress towards the SDGs

On 10 June 2021, the Geneva Cities Hub, UN Habitat and City Cancer Challenge Foundation (C/Can) co-organized a second online Geneva Urban Debate on the role of cities in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event gathered around 200 participants from all over the world and offered an opportunity to launch the findings of a new report by C/Can and Devex highlighting how city-led initiatives can accelerate progress towards the SDGs.
Sami Kanaan (Vice-Mayor of Geneva & President of the Geneva Cities Hub) provided welcoming remarks and Paola Deda (Director, Forest, Land and Housing division, UN Economic Commission for Europe) moderated the discussion.

As each speaker provided insights into their work in support of cities and the SDGs, they all underlined the importance of:

  • designing programmes and solutions on the basis of city needs-assessments and data collected at local level;
  • multi-stakeholder approaches with key stakeholders bringing their respective expertise in favour of smarter and more sustainable solutions;
  • human-centred approaches ensuring that solutions are designed with people in mind;
  • community engagement which fosters the participation of urban residents and ensure that the solutions respond to their needs.

Susan Henshall (CEO, C/Can) emphasized that SDGs were implemented at local level and illustrated it through the work done by C/Can at city level to improve access to quality and equitable cancer care.

Dr. Onyeka Erobu (Senior Health Adviser, Office of the Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone) demonstrated how the SDGs were implemented through the “Transform Freetown” agenda aiming at improving the daily lives of the population in various areas such as health, water and sanitation, urban mobility, education, job creation, etc.

Shalini Singaravelu (Programme Manager, Health Initiatives, IBM) spoke about IBM’s project to improve cancer pathology reporting that was piloted at city level, in Asunción, Paraguay. The success of the project was ensured thanks to 3 principles: co-creation, multi-sectoral expertise and person-centricity.

Finally, Graham Alabaster (Head, Geneva Office, UN Habitat) delved into UN Habitat 2020-2023 strategic plan and how UN Habitat was supporting cities to accelerate progress towards the SDGs in areas such as reduction of spatial inequality and poverty, strengthening climate action and prevention of urban crises.


Videolink to the event here.

The next Geneva Urban Debate will take place on 28 June and will be devoted to post-covid economic & financial recovery. Learn more.

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