The 2021 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was held online from July 5 to 16, focusing on following up on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Under the forum's framework, the "Accelerating Local Action" session was successfully held on July 8. The conference was co-organized by the World Cities and Local Government Organization (UCLG) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which was hosted by UCLG Secretary-General Emilia Saiz.
Nicholas You, senior consultant of the Guangzhou International Urban Innovation Award (Guangzhou Award), was invited to attend the meeting and made a speech.
The meeting put a spotlight on the UCLG Local4Action HUBs initiative. City representatives from Cuenca of Ecuador, Xi'an of China's Shaanxi province, and Madrid of Spain discussed topics like gender equality, climate control, culture, education, and public services, and shared relevant experiences of city innovation and the implementation of sustainable development policies.
In You's speech, he summarized the success of the Guangzhou Award in promoting the practice of urban innovation, and put forward suggestions and references on scaling up innovation achievements and localizing sustainable development. "First, we need to engage people by giving them a real stake in the outcomes. Second, we need very strong local leadership. Third, sustainable development goals should be viewed systematically and holistically, and cities should look at the complexity of the problem rather than trying to simplify it and break it down into pieces," You said.
At the end of the speech, You put forward thinking about the relationship between development efficiency and sustainability. He did not agree with the excessive pursuit of technology-driven efficiency in today's cities and called for more attention to sustainable development goals.
The Guangzhou Award serves as a platform for the sharing and exchange of innovative practices in the local implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). So far, it has successfully undergone four cycles, having collected more than 1,200 urban governance innovation cases around the world.
The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is the United Nations' central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. Since 2013, the high-level political forum has convened a ministerial meeting every year, and a summit will be held every four years within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly. The theme of the 2021 forum is "Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of a decade of action and delivery for sustainable development."