RIYADH, [8, July, 2020]: The cities of Riyadh and Houston virtually hosted the second U20 meeting of 2020 this week. The U20 mayors’ representatives – known as Sherpas –gathered to examine key policy recommendations and new content developed by three new multinational expert taskforces. These recommendations are part of the roadmap for U20 mayors and leaders as they solidify their formal asks to G20 Leaders at the Mayors Summit later in the year.
His Excellency Fahd Al-Rasheed, U20 Chair and the President of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, welcomed the recommendations of the Sherpa meeting, stating: “We mark the end of two important days of meetings, discussions and dialogues with Sherpas and representatives from cities, our partners, and contemporaries from within the G20 ecosystem. Together, we are preparing the draft communique for mayors and leaders to deliver to G20 decision makers a clear roadmap for hub cities to drive economic recovery.”
“The work done by the U20 will help city leaders as they formulate strategies and implement plan to deal with the current urban challenges and manage future growth and development. Here in Riyadh, the strategies are focused on four pillars: the economy, mobility, sustainability and arts and culture. We have plans to become a leading city in each of these areas” His Excellency added.
During the meeting on 6 and 7 July, city representatives (Sherpas) nominated to lead their city’s involvement, with over 100 participants from 31 cities, discussed the outcomes of the three taskforces, a collaborative mechanism initiated for the first time within the U20 towards developing evidence-based action-oriented policy recommendations.
Adapting to a post-COVID-19 world, they re-iterated the role cities play as powerhouses of urban economies.
The taskforce leads elaborated on their work:
1.Rome, Tshwane and the OECD emphasized how the pandemic could serve as the turning point for the accelerated adoption of a carbon neutral economy worldwide. The transition to circular, carbon neutral economies will involve particular attention towards energy efficiency, reshaping mobility, carbon-neutral buildings, and adopting sustainable consumption and production practices.
2.Izmir and Metropolis presented on how affordable housing, gender equality, socio-cultural inclusivity and cohesion, future of work, and youth empowerment have made it to global agendas due to their importance and relevance to people in cities. Cities are faced with several challenges on these fronts and – yet they are also presented with great opportunities for change and impact.
3.Durban and ICLEI congratulated how the taskforces have acted as an interface between science and local action. Recurrent themes of inequalities in key areas such as resilience, food security, and sanitation were highlighted; and how cities need to radically rethink and place nature-based solutionsin their economic recovery post-COVID-19. Durban also emphasizedthe unique opportunity for the U20 to play an instrumental role in ensuring cities have an active contribution in the lead up to the COP26.
The G20 Secretariat joined the second day of the event where the G20 representative and Saudi Sherpa His Excellency Dr. Fahad Almubarak chaired a dynamic session focused on the synergy of the U20 and G20 agendas, which share the core principles of sustainability, inclusivity, carbon-neutrality, and implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
A formal note of the meeting’s recommendations will be circulated to its member cities. This preparatory work is a vital step to pave the way for the Mayors Summit in September.
Urban20 or U20 is a city diplomacy initiative that brings together cities from G20 member states and observer cities from non-G20 states to discuss and form a common position on climate action, social inclusion and integration, and sustainable economic growth. Recommendations are then issued for consideration by the G20. The initiative is convened by C40 Cities, in collaboration with United Cities and Local Governments, under the leadership of a Chair city that rotates annually. The first U20 Mayors Summit took place in Buenos Aires in 2018, and the second took place in Tokyo in 2019. For 2020, Riyadh City is the Chair city and host of the annual Mayors Summit.
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