Local Resilience to climate change and COVID-19 – No one left behind in urban resilience building

On 4 April, the Geneva Cities Hub hosted a side-event co-organized by UN-Habitat, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and UNECE. The event examined how cities build resilience against climate change and how to reduce the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. In doing so, the event looked into academic research, UN studies and Mayors’ actions.

As the world faces an unprecedented global crisis with severe impacts threatening the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), local action and Mayors in particular, have become more important than ever. With eight years remaining to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the COVID-19 pandemic compels to simultaneously ensure a resilient recovery and accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

Cities around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, while attempting to prioritize justice, economy, and climate action in their recovery strategies. Progress on sustainable development must be re-energized in the face of the worst global economic crisis in nearly a century. Now is the time for national and municipal governments to re-establish themselves as stronger, fairer, and more environmentally friendly than before. UN-Habitat and its partners, cities and others, are faced with the prospect of (i) rethinking existing urban space, to develop resilience and (ii) ensure that those urban spaces yet-to-be-built are planed with resilience in mind. “Resilience is not just about physical infrastructure and planning, it also relates to governance structures, community engagement etc. and building a “nimbleness” to respond to crisis”, said Mr. Graham Alabaster, Chief of UN-Habitat office in Geneva.

Ms. Sharon Dijksma, Mayor of Utrecht, Netherlands, stated “Let’s change people’s behaviour with small gestures to combat climate change: if leaders of today are not thinking about tomorrow, then they are not good leaders!”.

For us, one of the most relevant actions is that we have established “shared objectives” with 100 other municipalities, creating a standing network for collaboration through multi-stakeholder and community engagement”, said Mr. Rocco Guarino, Mayor of Albano di Lucania and President of the Province of Potenza, Italy.

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