Mayor's speech at High-Level meeting at UN-Habitat General Assembly

Speech by Mayor Claudia Lopez at the UN General AssemblyPhoto: Mayor's Office of Bogota
The Mayor, Claudia López, delivered her speech before UN directors and members, Global Task Force members and other attendees at the UN-Habitat General Assembly.

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Dear UN Secretary General, Dear Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dear President of the General Assembly, Delegates and members of the United Nations, , and members of the Global Taskforce and all its members, Colleagues from civil society, academia, and other constituencies of the New Urban Agenda.

The only way to lead is to led by example, I’m the first women, a diverse women and the daughter of a teacher to become Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, a country of 200 hundred years of republicanism and a city of 30 years popularly elected governments.

Bogotá is One of the top mega city regions of the world. And as advocate, citizen and mayor I can attest what happens when we integrate and execute seriously the Paris climate agreement, the SDGs and new urban agenda in a city.

What happens is that by fist time in Bogotá’s history and master plans it is the ecological green areas will grow by 30% instead of been systematically reduced and destroyed by greying, expansive urbanization.

What happens is that the flow of waters and conservation areas guide the urban development instead of been subjugated by it. What happens is that a master urban plan granted the majority of investment and urban space to pedestrian, bike riders, green corridors and clean public transportation rather than to cars and avenues.

What happens is that by first time in Bogotá gender is not only a perspective, but and actual city system of care that recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work from the shoulders of 1.2 million women offering them time and services to breath, educate, and work to became economically independent lifting them out of poverty.

What happens is that the sons and daughters of these women stopped being trapped by debt and frustration for and education that is long, expensive and no conducive to happiness and work, and start getting an education that is shorter, flexible, pertinent and affordable for the global, green and digital world they live in.

That is what is happening in Bogotá. That is what happens when we actually integrate and execute the multilateral goals and agendas set in the United Nations. Empathic, ethic, collective action is the example we need.

As it has been remarked by all the national states interventions in this Assembly, we, the people, we the Cities and regions, are the drivers of change, growth, innovation and diversity. We are the home of 50% of the world’s population, and sooner of more than 70%. We are the bridge that makes possible rural and urban inclusive, empathic and sustainable development. Most importantly, we are the melting pots that allow democratic values, habits and institutions to emerge and exist. 

Dear states of the United Nations, We, the people, we the Local and regional governments, are not only the first and most effective respondents to emergencies, such as the covid 19, we are the always crafters of practical and feasible solutions and the executors and achievers of any goal or plan agreed in any multilateral scenario. 

None multilateral goal wether the Paris climate agreement, the SDGs, the new urban agenda or the global peace will be achieved in the 21st century without fully integrating local and regional governments to the multilateral scenarios.

We are at a turning point in humanity’s history. We are in a similar situation to the one the world faced in the 1930s. We are confronted by the challenges posed by multiple global crises, pandemic, unemployment, social upheaval, and threats to crumble democracy and war. 

What would local and national government have done in the beginning of the 1930a if they had known what would happen to the world just a few years later? This is the question we need to pose and answer today.

The world then had to face the political products of those multiple global crisis: fascism, Nazism, and communism with the greatest technological invention of its time: the atomic bomb was created and used by fist time.

Today, those and more advanced military creations exist, but we know that using them will lead to the end of the planet and humanity. Therefore, using these technological inventions for destruction is not an option. 

We need to use science, knowledge and collective glocal action to protect democratic and multilateral institutions that will allow us to act decisively and efficiently to prevent and mitigate our current challenges: climate change; opportunities for education, employment, local security and global peace. Young people, women and families in the world are not asking for much more, but they are also not going to conform to much less: a healthy environment, education employment, and long-lasting peace. It is not a lot; we need to be able to guarantee it.

You all must understand that local governments are relevant, not only because of the pandemic, we matter, and we are seated here because we have been the first responders to all glocal challenges: the pandemic, social crises, the protection of democracy, sustainable development, and the prevention of climate change. The has come not only to share this building but to work tighter in this Assembly. We, the people, we the local and regional governments, propose not only to share occasionally this building, but to be a part of the United Nations General Assembly permanently.

We cannot allow violent expansionism to impose itself again and rise to breed more poverty, unemployment, social crises and add new challenges to democracy with violence. Today it is in Mariupol, in Ukraine, but tomorrow it could be any of our cities or countries.

The United Nations must guarantee today that the mission for which it was created, peace, is achieved. Count, without a doubt, on local and regional governments around the world to ensure this work.

This new multilateralism must include local, regional, and national governments. We need to explain to the world, to our glocal citizens and to all of humanity, no more than 5 common global goals: glocal peace, climate action, employment, education, and care. These are the key issues from the local to the global level to reach true social, democratic, and environmental sustainability.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. We hope that our request to be represented as local governments in the General Assembly will be seriously considered and the importance of our role in executing and ensuring the achievement of global agendas is clear to all of you. 

We owe it to our present and future generations: the time to act, it is now or now that together  we must ensure that no human being and no place is left behind.

Here, a tweet in which UCLG highlighted part of the speech delivered by the mayor, Claudia López, at the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly: