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Deputy Secretary-General Notes Increasingly Urban Nature of Health, Climate, Conflict Phenomena, in Message to Africities Summit Opening Session

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to the opening session of the Africities Summit in Kisumu, Kenya, today:

Your Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, your Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, your Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, your Excellency President Olusegun Obasanjo, excellencies, friends and colleagues,

It is my great honour to address the opening session of the Africities Summit.  Thank you to the Government of Kenya, the County of Kisumu, and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) – Africa for hosting this important summit in the wonderful city of Kisumu.

We are meeting in challenging times, marked by multiple interlinked crises and a proliferation of conflicts.  At the same time, the world is in the midst of key transitions, from energy to the digital world.  Among the emerging trendlines, urbanization is a defining megatrend of the twenty-first century.  We need to take advantage of it.

The recent review of the New Urban Agenda provides insights into what a bottom-up approach to sustainable development in Africa could look like:

  • recognizing the centrality of the New Urban Agenda to other global agendas, notably our efforts to combat climate change;
  • acknowledging that COVID-19 has deepened inequalities and elevated the importance of cities;
  • and addressing the gaps in capacities and financing countries face to achieve sustainable urbanization.

Africa is projected to have the world’s fastest-growing urban population over the next 30 years.  Cities are producing more than 60 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) in Africa.  And the rapid trend of urbanization across the continent offers new opportunities to accelerate economic and social transformations.

Equitable, inclusive and prosperous cities need to harness the full potential and participation of all citizens, including women and the youth.  The power of community action — especially youth action, which is our most important and dynamic human resource — can make a difference.  While large towns and megacities will continue to attract people, effectively harnessing urbanization processes hinges on intermediary cities like Kisumu.  Indeed, these cities must be at the heart of national urban strategies.

Health emergencies, the climate crisis, and conflicts are increasingly urban phenomena.  Local governments in Africa must be provided with the means and resources to confront these challenges and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Successful implementation of the SDGs requires unprecedented ownership by local actors.

Together with UCLG and other partners, the United Nations has launched the Local2030 Coalition — a platform designed to support and accelerate SDG delivery at the local level.  We invite all of you to join this effort.  Acting together, we can leverage well-planned and well-managed cities as engines for sustainable development and innovation.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.