On 15 February, the Geneva Cities Hub took part in the meeting convened by the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to draft and negotiate a new WHO treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The objective was for the Bureau and Member States to invite relevant stakeholders to provide comments on the zero draft.
The GCH seized this opportunity to recall the added value of local and regional governments (LRGs) in multilateral processes, such as this one. It emphasized the crucial role of LRGs in preventing, preparing and responding to pandemics and the fact that cities and urban settings are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases and epidemics. While the zero draft already includes some references to local authorities and action at the local level, the GCH suggested the introduction of a new guiding principle dedicated to the whole-of-government approach, ensuring that not only several areas of government are involved, but also all levels of governments. Referring to the previous WHA 75.7 resolution, the GCH also suggested language on urban planning as a key element of preparedness and response and on the necessity to pay specific attention to the unique vulnerabilities of cities, urban settings and associated informal settlements, when preparing for disruptions caused by pandemics.
The GCH will submit these language proposals to Member States that would hopefully result in better inclusion of the views and interests of LRGs in the future treaty, and it will continue to actively follow the process.