On 12 October 2023, as part of the Geneva Urban Debates series, the Global Cities Hub and UN Habitat invited the organizers of the 3rd Forum of Mayors (FoM) and of Building Bridges 2023 (BB), as well as the representative of Switzerland to brief local and regional governments (LRGs) on the main outcomes of these important events which took place in Geneva between 2-5 October 2023. It provided an opportunity for those who could not attend the events to learn about the possibilities they offer, their results and their role in creating effective multilateralism.
Ambassador Boris Richard, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the WTO expressed its support to the FoM as a new UN body capable of conveying the views of Mayors to UN Member States. The fact that cities deal with the most pressing issues of our time and their crucial role in achieving a sustainable future clearly shows the importance of involving this stakeholder group in global discussions. Switzerland is a dedicated supporter of inclusive multilateralism through a multistakeholder approach.
Thomas Hartley who was instrumental to the FoM, told the audience that the 3rd Forum had taken place on 2-3 October under the theme “Urban regeneration towards 2030”. It brought together about 300 representatives from cities, UN entities (including all UN Regional Commissions), States, as well as from NGOs and academia.
At the heart of the FoM’s mission lies a commitment towards sustainable urban development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Out of the 60 cities represented, 41 city leaders shared their experiences and challenges on urban regeneration and resilience, showcasing solutions that simultaneously meet the needs and aspirations of their residents while also implementing the 2030 Agenda.
Mayors shared their valuables experiences on urban regeneration and resilience through a series of discussions, including through a new “interregional segment” of the FoM. Co-organized by the GCH and all UN Regional Economic Commissions. This segment gathered mayors from Europe and beyond to discuss challenges and good practices in relation to urban regeneration and building resilience, through their specific regional lens. It was interesting to identify commonalities despite regional specificities.
Boris LeMontagner explained the vision of “Building Bridges” to leverage the power of finance and the International Geneva ecosystem to preserve the planet and reduce social inequalities. The initiative serves as an international hub for sustainable finance and the SDGs. It is a collaborative effort that aims to advance sustainable finance. The discussion at the “Building Bridges 2023 Summit” covered financing tools for sustainable development, including innovative financing, green bonds, public-private partnerships, etc.
This year for the first time, mayors, UN leaders and the business community conducted a joint holistic discussion on sustainable financing at local level through UN action. Mayors presented their valuable projects, UN leaders shared ways and means they can assist with and businesspeople advised on how to prepare and plan sustainable projects.
The event “How to advance innovative financing at the local level through UN action” offered the very opportunity to bring LRGs, UN entities and the financial sector around the same table to discuss a more inclusive approach that delivers on advancing and accelerating the transition to a sustainable financial system globally. The scale and complexity of this transition requires further concrete and long-term collaboration between the wide range of actors, such as the UN, the financial community, asset owners, private sector networks as well as local and regional governments.
The audience had the possibility to ask questions and engage with the speakers during the briefing. The GCH believes that the 3rd Forum of Mayors and Building Bridges 2023 contributed considerably to inclusive multilateralism by involving local and regional governments. The GCH encourages all interested stakeholders to engage with future editions of the Forum of Mayors and Building Bridges and stands ready to support the participation and contribution of LRGs with these exciting fora.