Cities as UN partners for the future of multilateralism
22 September 2020 – At yesterday’s UN high level meeting of Heads of State and Government to commemorate the UN 75th anniversary Secretary-General Guterres presented the UN report “The future we want, the United Nations we need” that reflects on the outcome of the global conversation on the future of the UN and includes the Open Letter of the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) to the Secretary-General. The GPM Open Letter pleads for a fair recognition of the important role of cities for a future multilateral and rules-based international political system and the transition towards the United Nations and Cities of the World.
GPM Chair Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, said, “It is an important signal that the GPM Open Letter has been included in the UN report on the future priorities for international cooperation and for the UN in particular. This underlines that mayors are being listened to by the United Nations and in particular by its Secretary-General”.
In his speech, the UN Secretary-General referred to multilateralism as a necessity to build for a more equal, more resilient and more sustainable world. He referred in particular to the future of international cooperation that must become more inclusive and effective, he said, with a need for a network multilateralism in which nation states are not the only actors.
GPM Chair Mayor Kurz said, “Secretary-General Guterres emphasised in his report the role of cities as important partners for the future of multilateralism and an inclusive UN. In doing so, he took up a central demand of the GPM. Even if today’s address by the UN Secretary-General does not yet mean that cities are being formally included in the UN decision-making system, it is clear that the United Nations has recognised the need for far-reaching change which includes the participation of cities. The GPM will use this window of opportunity to further underline its expectation of genuine multilevel governance.”
Due to the recent advocacy work of GPM mayors, such as personals letters to UN ambassadors, not only the UN institutions but also the member states start to recognize the crucial role of cities. Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, mentioned in her speech at the special meeting of the UN General Assembly on 21 September “international city twinning projects” as an example for interdependency and solidarity. She furthermore recognized that “it is first and foremost in cities and communities, in daily life on the ground, that we will determine whether and how we can do justice to global challenges.” Chancellor Angela Merkel referred in particular to the COVID-19 pandemic when declaring “global problems call for understanding and cooperation beyond national boards and at all levels.”
For the UN report “The future we want, the United Nations we need” please refer to https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/un75report_september_final_english.pdf.