The intention was to organise the summit of the Urban 20 (U20) network formed by cities from G20 countries in Rome and Milan 16–17 June 2021, but the summit has been postponed to September 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Under the leadership of Mayor Jan Vapaavuori, Helsinki has been an observer city since 2018 and an actual member since March 2021. The annual summit involves the publication of a joint statement from the participating cities, which, this year too, was released on 17 June 2021, despite the postponed summit. The statement has been approved by 28 cities and will be presented to the G20 Summit participants in Rome 30–31 October 2021 during Italy’s presidency term.
Cities play an important role in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and achieving the Agenda 2030 goals. The management of the U20 cities also emphasises sustainable development goals in the targeting of COVID-19 recovery funding, for example. In addition to this, the cities feel that the cooperation between national and local administrations must be tightened to ensure the equal provision of public services.
“The Urban 20 network is one of the most important networks of cities, which is why it is notable that Helsinki has now become a full member, following involvement since 2018. Helsinki has a pioneering role within the network with regard to a variety of matters, such as combatting climate change and participatory decision-making. This year, the network will challenge the G20 countries to strengthen the roles of the cities as enablers of green and fair recovery. Successful efforts to influence the G20 programme will help put themes that are significant to local administration on the global agenda,” Mayor Jan Vapaavuori says.
The primary content of this year’s U20 statement are focused on the activities of communities, the future of our planet and the economy. The statement highlights the following main themes as the goals:
- strengthening equality and social cohesion with regard to society, the cultural sector and public services
- investments into green and fair recovery, accelerated climate actions preceding the COP26 climate agreement, construction supporting well-being and climate goals, and changes to food production in support of climate goals
- adapting to coming changes in working life, strengthening local democracy and economy, and protecting the digital rights of individuals
Helsinki has been involved in the Urban 20 (U20) network, which is formed by cities from G20 countries, since 2018. Initially, Helsinki served as an observer city before joining as an actual member by decision of the City Board on 8 March 2021.
The U20 network was established in 2017 by the initiative of the Mayors of Paris and Buenos Aires, in cooperation with the C40 climate network and UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments) network of cities. The aim of the network is to put global themes that are important to cities on the agenda of the G20 group formed by the world's wealthiest countries. The increased significance of cities as operators in international policy has clearly been another factor leading to the formation of the network.
Photo: 110th Street Productions