The 5 regional commissions and UN-Habitat emphasize the important role of cities in facing climate change and strengthening resilience

On November 16 at Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt, during the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 27), the event "Climate Action and the New Urban Agenda: localization of the SDGs and sustainable urban policy for resilience” was held. This event was born from the joint work of the five Economic Commissions of the United Nations and UN-Habitat, to support the Member States and their local authorities in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and its transformative commitments, and allowed participating Member States and cities to share points of view, tools and experiences available to expand the project results beyond partner countries and cities.

The event was moderated by Diego Aulestia, Head of the Human Settlements unit at ECLAC and counted with the interventions of:

• Erfan Ali, UN-Habitat Regional Representative for Arab States

• Dmitry Mariyasin, UNECE Deputy Executive Secretary

• Mr. Lautaro Lorenzo, Executive Secretary, Mercociudades, LAC Region

• Mr. Jamal Laziz, President of Budget, Finance and Program Committee Agadir Municipal Council, Morocco

• Ms. Norliza Hashim, CEO, Urbanice Malaysia

• Ms. Sharon Dijksma. Mayor of Utrecht, Netherlands

For the local actors, the discussed themes were about the incorporation of key elements of design and implementation in the responses and recoveries to shocks (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) and their most important obstacles and challenges. Ms Sharon Dijksma reflected on the multi-crisis situation in Europe, dealing with the remains of covid-19 and the costs of the war in Ukraine which has affected the most vulnerable. Ms. Dijksma highlighted the importance of public green spaces for the people's mental health, which has been incorporated into the agenda along with the construction of public spaces such as schools, sports spaces, and health facilities when building houses taking into account the most vulnerable for a fair and social agenda.

Mr Lautaro Lorenzo reflected on the challenges and responses that Latin America has regarding climate change, such as budget challenges from the consequences of climate change and the adaptation that cities need to face it. He also talked about the coordination challenges between the global, national and local levels, to implement actions when a crisis occurs such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Jamal Laziz shared the response of Morocco to the Covid-19 pandemic and the results of the Agadir Voluntary Local Report (VLR) which focused on seven SDGs and the commitment of the city of Agadir in programs of sustainable development at different levels. The strategic planning with the alignment of the Municipal Action Plan 2023-2028 with the VLR, a strong involvement of local partners and multi stake-holder coordination, raising awareness about the SGDs and the expansion of the experience to other Moroccan cities.

For the national actors, the discussed themes were about the main challenges and opportunities to develop integrated and coherent urban policies in the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda. Ms Norliza Hashim reflected on the contemporary urban issues that Malaysia is facing with the rapid urbanization and growing population, naming the National Urbanisation Policy as one of the answers to support the new demands and challenges. The policy addresses the social-economic disparities, growth imbalance and includes the participation of private and public actors. Regarding climate change, there is a compromise to reduce carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and become a carbon-neutral nation by 2050. However, the challenges remain such as the economy recovering from the covid-19 pandemic and the resilience that is needed to face the consequences of climate change, which has become one of the reasons to create The Malaysia SDGs Cities Program encouraging local governments to start a road map to achieve the sustainable development objectives, to reduce carbon emission and look for smarter low carbon emission solutions. These solutions are made in a context of a changing urban demographic which has to be taken into account to examine if the planning and policies are sufficient or not, holistically facing gender inequality, as well as perfecting the data collection and the participation of the communities in these solutions along with the funding of these local programs and achieve collaboration between all the actors at the different levels to get successful policies in terms of implementation.

The session finalized with a round of questions and commentaries from the panelists and the finals remarks of Sukaina Al Nasrawi and Diego Aulestia.