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The 3rd SDG Cities Global Conference and Global Mayor Forum in Sustainable Development opens |  Updated:2023-11-06

The Opening Ceremony of the 3rd SDG Cities Global Conference and Global Mayor Forum in Sustainable Development was held on Oct 28. 

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, under-secretary-general of the United Nations and executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); María Gabriela Aguilera Jaramillo, Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Ecuador; Zhang Xiaohong, vice-mayor of Shanghai, Dyfed Aubrey, Senior Human Settlements Officer of UN-Habitat and lead of SDG Cities Global Initiative; Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities and Su Yunshan, secretary-general of China Association of Mayors spoke at the event.

Sharif said urbanization all over the world was still being expedited and, in addition to the economic benefits of such urbanization, the growing unequal impact on environmental degradation and climate change has become a concern worldwide. She explained that the Sustainable Development Goals were a universal call for actions aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring that all people would enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Sharif said it was urgent for cities to step up their efforts to achieve the SDGs. She believed there was much that cities could do, and promised that the UN-Habitat would provide them with support. She cited the example of the flagship programme, which works with cities, various levels of government, communities, business sectors and development partners to connect the value chain of data; evidence-based policy; capacity in governance, planning and financing; and impact investments to accelerate the achievement of SDGs in cities.

María Gabriela Aguilera, Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Ecuador,  said that cities contributed more than 80% percent global GDP, yet the rapid pace of urbanization posed considerable challenges, and providing affordable housing, adequate transportation infrastructure, basic services and job opportunities for a growing population was an arduous task.

Aguilera said cities, governments, the private sector and communities should make joint efforts to tap into the potential of cities to realize innovations and prosperity. 

Mark Watts highlighted several sustainable development practices being implemented in countries around the world. One striking example, he said, was the ongoing construction of a modern public transportation system in Jakarta, Indonesia. Additionally, he mentioned China's dedicated efforts to promote the use of electric vehicles and reduce emissions from buildings were commendable. He also referred to Australia for its unwavering commitment towards sustainable development.

Separately, Aubrey said that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were proposed in 2015, bringing hope to reduce poverty, eradicate hunger and provide access to clean water, education, and good employment opportunities. He said it was aimed to bring equal opportunities for both genders. However, eight years had passed, he said, but added that the progress was slow. Only 12 percent of the goals had been achieved out of a total of 17 goals and 169 specific targets, he said. He further said that approximately 50 percent of countries had made progress but had not yet reached their targets, and 30 percent had made no progress or had even regressed. So, the road to achieving these goals, he said, was challenging and long.

Aubrey spoke the SDG Cities global initiative, a flagship programme to bring together stakeholders from different fields such civil society, business communities and representative neighbourhoods ,to identify challenges and development priorities for the cities, which could help to accelerate progress toward achieving SDGs. He also called on more cities to join the program. 

Mohammad Sirajul Islam, architect and Chief Urban Planner of Dhaka South City Corporation, represented the city of Dhaka South in Bangladesh. He received the Silver Certificate of SDG Cities from Aubrey to commemorate the city's participation in the SDG Cities global initiative.

The Global Cities Sustainable Development Mayors Forum was also held on Oct 28. Ghanashyam Giri, mayor of Chandragiri Municipality in Nepal;Jukka Mäkelä, mayor of Espoo in Finland; Lin Baojin, secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee in China; Patricio Maldonado, mayor of the city of Nabon and president of the Association of Municipalities of Ecuador;Milagro Rowe, vice mayor of Turrialba in Costa Rica; Dato Rajendran P.Anthony, mayor of Penang Island in Malaysia participated in the forum. 

The participants spoke about their cities and the challenges facing them. Potential solutions to tackle the issues were also discussed at the forum.

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