The Regions4 community gathered virtually on 18 June for the Network’s annual General Assembly held under the theme “Today’s action for tomorrows future”. The meeting served as an opportunity for subnational leaders worldwide to exchange and discuss on their role as leading actors during and post COVID-19, the most relevant international agendas and Regions4 initiatives and opportunities for members. More importantly, the meeting also served as a high-level debate for the representatives of the Regions4 constituency to share their views, opportunities, and challenges for the response to the global crises.

Recognizing their role as key actors at the forefront of the pandemic, the Regions4 members launched the Declaration “Subnational governments actions to combat global emergencies and build a sustainable post-pandemic world”, calling for a sustainable, resilient and just recovery, which includes an accelerated response to the climate and biodiversity crises worldwide. Furthermore, the Declaration urges for a concerted and coordinated response among all levels of government and a strong and proactive United Nations system that reflects the current context and includes subnational governments in the decision-making, implementation, and monitoring processes.

The high-level debate included the participation of representatives from Regions4 members Aland Islands, Basque Country, Catalonia, Centre-Nord, CONGOPE, Flanders, Gossas, Jalisco, La Réunion, Lombardy, Louga, North Sumatra, Rabat Salé-Kenitra and Sao Paulo, who expressed their main concerns, expectations and response actions to address the pandemic and ensure a resilient recovery while enhancing international cooperation and the deployment of the global goals.

The Minister of Transport and Communication of Aland Islands, Mr Christian Wikström, stated that The COVID-19 pandemic has not affected our ambition to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Measures to speed up the economic recovery should also include measures to fulfil sustainable and climate-neutral economies.”

Ms Zuhal Demir, Minister of Justice and Enforcement, Environment, Energy and Tourism of Flanders and newly elected Regions4 Vice-president for Europe expressed that “The recovery from the pandemic is a chance to contribute substantially to the climate and energy transition, but its also crucial that these transitions are affordable for all citizens. If we don’t take this into account, we will lose the key support of our citizens in the fight against climate change.”

Moreover, Mr Raffaelle Cattaneo, Minister for Environment and Climate Change of Lombardy, highlighted during his intervention the urgency of putting the biodiversity crisis in the forefront of the international response in order to build back better stating: We must demand a green recovery from the pandemic. I think time has arrived to ask for biodiversity the same importance received by climate change. These are not mutually exclusive issues.”

Ms Marta Subirà, Secretary of Environment and Sustainability of Catalonia also called to reinforce synergies and find common solutions for the climate change and biodiversity emergencies, specially at the subnational level, as they are better prepared and best adapted to face these crises and jointly work for a green, sustainable recovery.

Likewise, Mr Sergio Graf, Secretary for Environment and Territorial Development of Jalisco and newly elected Regions4 Vice-president for America stated that: Fighting climate change and achieving sustainable development will not be able without biodiversity conservation. Regions4 will be key to achieve these synergies, enhancing subnational governments capacities to fulfil the vision of leaving no one behind.”

The debate was closed with the commitment of the Regions4 community to make the most of our core values of diversity, collaboration, solidarity, closeness, ownership, accountability, and leadership to jointly work and contribute to the global recovery from the pandemic and elevating the commitment of regions towards the localisation of the global goals by enhancing innovative solutions, including actions that are integrated into ecosystem approaches at all government levels as a means to simultaneously improve the preservation of biodiversity, and promote climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The Declaration “Subnational governments actions to combat global emergencies and build a sustainable post-pandemic world” is available in English, Spanish and French.

We invite you to spread the word about our subnational constituency’s leadership to enhance global cooperation, raise ambition to implement coherent policies and take part in the decision-making processes for the global agendas, by joining our online community to raise #RegionsVoice

For more information on subnational leadership and actions, visit our Knowledge Hub.