Pandemic preparedness requires a whole-of-government approach

On 6 November 2023, Member States resumed their negotiations on a new WHO pandemic agreement in the 7th session of the intergovernmental negotiating body (INB 7). The Global Cities Hub actively participated in the oral deliberations and submitted a written position on the new negotiating text (available here).

It has been a year and a half since the INB has started its work. Several texts have been reviewed by States and they now agree that the current draft text forms an acceptable basis for negotiating a new WHO pandemic agreement. This being said, positions remain far apart on various provisions of the current draft text. Stakeholders could submit their perspectives and the GCH therefore provided its inputs based on the ‘Mayors’ Declaration for better pandemic prevention, preparedness and response’, co-facilitated with the Global Parliament of Mayors.

In our intervention, we encouraged States to better consider the role and perspectives of local and regional governments (LRGs) in the draft pandemic agreement to ensure that it enhances equity not only between, but also within States. We recalled that LRGs should be involved in designing and implementing adequate responses to future pandemics and that the pandemic agreement should be guided by a whole-of-government approach to ensure policy coherence and effective implementation among all sectors and levels of government. LRGs are well placed to ensure that no one is left behind. While we welcomed the references in the current text to the subnational level and to equity within States, we suggested that the latter be strengthened to ensure effective implementation at the local level.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown, LRGs are well positioned to implement national policies and regulations; prevent and contain the spread of diseases; provide the right information to the population; assist and protect people in vulnerable situation; collect data; and promote socio-economic recovery. Consequently, the role of LRGs needs to be referred to in the pandemic agreement to ensure effective PPPR.

The GCH also submitted written proposals for consideration by negotiating States, recognizing that urban settings are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases and epidemics, and that therefore, cities, local authorities and communities have an important role to play in preventing, preparing for and responding to health emergencies. The proposals are shared with all WHO member states and published on the WHO’s dedicated website.

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