Why cities should be fully recognized stakeholders within the UN system

Article by Andràs Szörényi and Pauline Leroy: Cities and their networks have risen on the international scene in the past decades as urban populations have increased dramatically. Cities have become more vocal on issues such as climate change, migration, and international conflict, as these challenges are increasingly impacting urban areas.

What’s more, innovative solutions to these problems are being invented in cities. And yet, despite their outsized contribution to the global economy and social development, cities have very few opportunities to engage in global decision-making and governance. They are not recognized stakeholders at the United Nations, and mayors are rarely afforded an international stage.

The Geneva Cities Hub – established in 2020 by the City and Canton of Geneva, with the support of the Swiss Confederation – enables cities and local governments to connect with Geneva-based international actors and amplify their voices.

Acknowledging cities as international actors is not just a good thing to do; it’s critical to developing policies that stand a chance of implementation.

When goals are announced and solutions are devised without the input of those in charge of implementation, unanticipated challenges inevitably arise. In short, including cities is critical to ensuring that decisions are practicable.

The Geneva Cities Hub has thus been empowered to facilitate the participation of cities in relevant multilateral processes in the Swiss city and beyond. We follow several of those and identify where the contribution of cities is relevant.

How cities can play a key role in multilateralism

How cities can play a key role in multilateralism. Image: Geneva Cities Hub

We then work with states and international organizations to open these processes up and liaise with local governments to support their engagement…(More)”.