On 13-15 June the Geneva Cities Hub attended the Brussels Urban Summit co-organized by Eurocities, Metropolis, OECD Champion Mayors and Brussels Capital Region. Global challenges also have concrete impact on cities today: climate change, human rights, urban growth, migration and social inclusion, just to name a few.
Cities are political actors with significant decision-making power and their inclusion in international fora would give rise to a new multilateralism that is closer to the people, more effective and inclusive. Local and regional governments (LRGs) should be able to share their views, their challenges, their experiences at the international level on issues of particular concern to them. Thanks to their proximity to their population, cities are crucial to providing answers to common challenges.
At an event on “Building the Future: How Science is Transforming Metropolises”, President of GCH Sami Kanaan shared his views on how to use science to build smart and livable cities but also on how to make sure residents are able to profit from these developments. At the Metropolis General Assembly, he presented the work of the Cities Hub. We’re working to better connect LRGs to multilateralism and collaborate with the numerous international organizations in Geneva. GCH advocates for opening up multilateral processes to LRGs, such as the UN Universal Periodic Review, the Global Refugee Forum, as well as the current negotiations on plastic pollution or pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
Senior Policy Advisor Andras Szorenyi intervened along UN-Habitat and OECD at the debate “Empowering Cities” organized by the Global Parliament of Mayors. He advocated for a new status for LRGs at the UN, to be created by States, enabling LRGs to participate in the work of the UN in their own capacity. This is also the recommendation made by the UN SG’s High Level Advisory Board on Effective multilateralism in its “Breakthrough report”. Creating this new status would acknowledge the role of LRGs as valuable partners in addressing global challenges and developing collective solutions.
The session focused on the three “C” of cities’ empowerment: co-decision, capacity, and capital. Policymakers at different levels are increasingly recognizing cities as relevant partners and key stakeholders in agenda-setting and policy-making. Building on the positive experiences of peer-to-peer exchanges among LRGs, the inclusion of mayors in intergovernmental processes like the G7 and G20 illustrates a shift towards an evolution of interaction between national and subnational governments. Further, enabling cities to contribute to multilateral processes and negotiations would improve adherence to their outcome, facilitate the implementation of international instruments at local level and improve the effectiveness of multilateralism.
The Cities Hub – as a stakeholder in Geneva-based multilateral processes – participates in consultations, makes recommendations and language proposals in relation to the documents under negotiation. We encourage and facilitate the participation of and contribution by cities to the global discussion in international organizations. We consider it indispensable to make the voice of LRGs heard in relevant forums.