2020 was a challenging year. The global pandemic brought to the surface an immense resource gap between different countries around the world and the overall fragility of the world economy. Even then, the year also saw major gains for development cooperation, and saw the global South produce and share knowledge and expertise at a scale we had never seen before.
Since its launch in 2017 by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the Cities Project has been steadily achieving results. The project aims to promote South-South and triangular cooperation at the city level leveraging comparative advantages of UN specialized agencies and taking advantage of the strategic opportunities offered by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Cities Project 2020 Highlights is a compilation of the achievements the project has managed to produce through this challenging year. For more information, please visit the Cities Project page on South-South Galaxy.
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Understanding of development needs deepened
The project team completed six online needs surveys to understand development priorities, capacity development demands, and collaboration interests among cities and institutional partners. The surveys received 3,400 valid responses from local and national government officials, city-related organizations, IGOs, CSOs, etc.
Cities’ capacities developed; project partnership based expanded
The project team organized and supported 41 webinars, with good practices from over 80 cities and local authorities showcased. 19 of these webinars were broadcasted live via livestream platforms. 15 also featured AI-powered simultaneous language interpretation; and one featured AI-powered sign language interpretation. As of January 2021, the webinars amassed 3.3 million views from over 140 countries and about 1200 cities. Over 70% of the audience came from the global South. More than 80 development partners, including approximately 20 UN entities, were engaged. 18 city-to-city and city-institution partnerships were brokered and/or facilitated.
Good practices documented; project visibility increased
The Project carried out advocacy, outreach, and knowledge management activities, reaching over seven million views globally, including webinar views, video replays, and views reached through communication and advocacy). Under the Cities Project’s scope, 30 lecture/knowledge videos were produced (more than five million views) and 77 advocacy products including videos, news articles, newsletters, training reports/booklets, and blog articles were developed (approximately two million views) through UN News, South-South Galaxy, other UNOSSC channels, and partner’s media channels, email circulars, and mass media platforms.
The project team made available the English version of a report on COVID-19 and healthy cities. Two compilations of cities’ innovative experiences on COVID-19 responses and cross-border e-commerce, respectively, will be launched soon. Following thematic capacity development webinars, four training reports were produced to further disseminate Southern cities’ knowledge, good practices, and innovative experiences.
South-South mutual support for COVID-19 responses facilitated
On COVID 19 response, the Cities Project has worked to advocate for South-South solidarity and to facilitate mutual support among cities and institutional partners. The Project has also helped mobilize donations and facilitated the deployment of 1,094,000 masks, benefiting people in 22 countries of the global South.
Focus Areas in 2021
- COVID-19 Response and Recovery, Public Health
- Sustainable Agriculture Value Chain Development
- E-Commerce, Digitalization and Smart Cities
- Sustainable Tourism, Heritage Protection and Creative Economy
- Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation in Resilient Cities
- Sustainable Transport and Air Quality
- Waste Management, Green Cities, Renewable Energy