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UNECE’s first Forum of Mayors will gather cities as trailblazers for a sustainable recovery

Cities have become the epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting mayors on the frontlines of both the emergency and the battle for a green and sustainable recovery. UNECE will open the multilateral stage to city leaders in a full-day Forum and uncover their innovative responses to the ongoing pandemic. On 6 October 2020, more than 40 mayors, from Pittsburgh (United States) to Kazan (Russian Federation), from Reykjavik (Iceland) to Athens (Greece), will gather in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, or connect virtually to exchange their cities’ responses to the most pressing challenge of our time.

With the ambition to provide a long-term vision for urban recovery post COVID-19, the first-of-its-kind UN Forum will culminate in the endorsement of the Geneva Declaration of Mayors. The outcome document calls for concrete action to “build back better” in all aspects of urban life, including ambitious climate action, sustainable transport and inclusive communities. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic not only as a challenge but also as an unprecedented opportunity for change, the Geneva Declaration outlines concrete starting points for making our cities healthier, more sustainable and liveable.

Proving first-hand insights from one of the hardest-hit cities in the UNECE region, the Mayor of Milan will outline in his keynote address how he manoeuvred his city out of the COVID-19 emergency. The renowned architect Sir Norman Foster will deliver a special address, outlining how the current pandemic will accelerate the evolution of our cities. Lord Foster’s address will mark his first appearance at the United Nations in Geneva.

The exchanges will be chaired by the Mayor of the host city, Geneva, Mr. Sami Kanaan. With the recently launched Geneva Cities Hub, headed by Mayor Kanaan, the city of Geneva is setting an excellent example of actively pursuing the cooperation on urban issues between local actors and the International Geneva community. 

UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova, an advocate for innovative work on urban development, will open the Forum of Mayors. Ms. Algayerova has repeatedly emphasised that a new multilateralism is needed as we mark the UN’s 75th anniversary – a multilateralism which includes local actors into the international discussions. The Director-General of the United Nations at Geneva, Ms. Tatiana Valovaya, who has also expressed the increasingly important role cities play in global policy and for realising the Sustainable Development Goals, will deliver an opening address.

Prior the Forum of Mayors, SDG11 Day, on 5 October 2020, will see one of the largest gatherings of city networks. The Forum of Mayors constitutes the first day of the 81st session of the Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management, which will take place from 6-8 October 2020.

Participation in the Forum of Mayors is possible both in-person and virtually. For in-person participation, online registration prior to the meeting is mandatory and the wearing of face masks in the conference room is required. The Forum of Mayors will be livestreamed on UN Web TV.

For more information, please visit the Forum’s website and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MayorsAction.