On 19 and 20 October, Kazan hosted the BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Forum.
Fifteen countries took part in the event, including India, China, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Indonesia, Germany, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan and Morocco, with representatives from 56 cities such as Moscow, New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Polokwane, Hangzhou, Wuhan and others. There were also representatives from 10 major organisations and associations of local governments and municipalities, including the Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Brazils National Confederation of Municipalities, Brazilian Association of Municipalities, South African Local Government Association, United Cities and Local Governments, World Health Organisation, and a number of Russian associations of cities and municipalities.
The forum opened on 19 October, and its first day included four sessions, during which experts discussed mechanisms for implementing the smart city concept, promoting sustainable urban development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and making cities and communities inclusive, safe and sustainable, as well as promoting municipal-level cooperation within BRICS.
The forum culminated with the plenary session on 20 October. Russian speakers included First Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Nigmatullin, Kazan Mayor and President of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities Ilsur Metshin, Rector of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yakovenko, and Minister of the Government of Moscow and Head of the Moscow Department of Foreign Economic Activity and International Relations Sergei Cheryomin. Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov sent a video message of greetings to the forum.
During the plenary meeting, the participants also heard statements by BRICS city mayors and representatives of city associations. These included President of Brazils National Confederation of Municipalities Glademir Aroldi, Executive Director of the Brazilian Association of Municipalities Eduardo Tadeu, Deputy Mayor of Sao Paulo Luiz Alvaro Salles Aguiar de Menezes, Mayor of Birigui, Brazil, Cristiano Salmeirao, Head of the International Relations Department at Rio de Janeiro City Hall Antonio Fernando Cruz de Mello, Secretary General of the Asia Pacific Section of the United Cities and Local Governments World Organisation Bernadia Irawati, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar (India), Consul General of the Peoples Republic of China in Kazan Wu Yingqin, Vice President of the Chinese Peoples Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Li Xikui, vice mayors of Xian, Wuhan and Hangzhou, President of the South African Local Government Association and Polokwane Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng and United Cities and Local Governments Secretary General Emilia Saiz.
Ilsur Metshin talked about the vast responsibilities of local government bodies considering their close ties to the people. «Local government institutions share the same mission regardless of their region or country, which is to streamline local governance, eliminate legal and financial hurdles and ensure equal opportunities and conditions for all residents,» he pointed out.
«We share the same goals of improving our cities, making them comfortable, safe and people-friendly. We want our cities to offer equal opportunities to all who live, study, work or engage in creative undertakings there. I am confident that this BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Government Cooperation Forum in Kazan will serve as an effective platform for strengthening cooperation among municipalities, enabling them to play a more prominent role in addressing global issues, as well as to share best practices in order to create a better environment for our residents,» Mr Metshin went on to say.
At the end of the forum its participants adopted an outcome declaration emphasising the importance of carrying out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for improving the lives and wellbeing of urban populations in the BRICS countries.
The forum ended with a concert broadcast devoted to the 100th anniversary of the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.