Skip to main content
The UN Geneva website is in Beta – this means we’re still adjusting the website and fixing bugs. Please take a few moments to give us your feedback!

Opening of the Forum of Mayors 2020

  | Tatiana Valovaya Speech
From left to right, Sami Kanaan, Mayor of Geneva, Switzerland, Lord Norman Foster, Architect, Olga Algayerova, Under-Secretary-General and UNECE Executive Secretary and Doris Andoni, Chair, Head Housing, Ministry of Finances and Economy of Albania during Forum of Mayors 2020 City Action for A Resilient Future. 6 October 2020. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré
From left to right, Sami Kanaan, Mayor of Geneva, Lord Norman Foster, Architect, Olga Algayerova, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNECE and Doris Andoni, Chair, Head Housing, Ministry of Finances and Economy of Albania during Forum of Mayors 2020 City Action for A Resilient Future. 6 October 2020. UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré

Excellencies, 
Distinguished guests, 
Colleagues, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all today - both those physically present at the Palais des Nations and many others joining us online.

Let me first of all thank the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and its Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova for organizing the Forum of Mayors, despite challenging circumstances.   

In this era of unprecedented urbanization, the way we plan, build and manage our urban spaces is critical to sustainable development. Cities play a central role in this. They have the potential to be powerful engines for innovation, development and community action.  

We are witnessing this strength today as cities show an extraordinary display of solidarity, agility and resilience to address the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As front-line responders to this major health crisis, local governments are demonstrating their indispensable role in tackling the pandemic, but also in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  

While the scope and ambition of the Goals are global, implementation takes place locally. The world’s cities, towns and communities are indeed at the heart of this crucial agenda for our future.  

Having entered this year the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations counts on all actors, including mayors and local leaders, to help provide solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.  


Ladies and gentlemen, 

The multilateral system is currently facing its deepest crisis since the Second World War. We must not only manage a crisis, but also face a real transformation.  

The current crisis has demonstrated how interdependent our world is.  But this interdependence presents both risks and opportunities: on the one hand, we now fully understand the vulnerability of our world to all types of shocks and disasters regardless of how far from us they occur. However, this interconnectedness also made us realize our shared responsibility for the planet and the imperative of working together in an inclusive way to tackle any global challenge, be it Covid-19 or the climate crisis. 

It is clear that isolated and ‘siloed’ approaches to achieving the 2030 Agenda will not succeed, nor will they make us better prepared for the next pandemic or global emergency. 

It is promising to see that local actors play a greater role in advancing and revitalizing international cooperation. For example, a new cooperation platform - the Geneva Cities Hub - was recently launched in Geneva with the aim to foster new partnerships and forge closer links between different cities of the world. Let me take this opportunity to sincerely thank Mr. Sami Kanaan, Mayor of Geneva, for his efforts to turn this partnership initiative into reality.   

Today, we have an opportunity to reflect and reset how we live, interact and rebuild our cities. This is central to the UN Secretary-General’s “Building back better” agenda. Today’s Forum of Mayors will certainly contribute to this important objective by discussing and articulating concrete actions to recover better by building more resilient and sustainable cities.  

I wish you a productive and successful Forum.  

Thank you.