The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the response of nations around the world to the unlimited needs that emerged after its rapid spread and rapid infection growth rates give an indication of countries' readiness to achieve sustainable development in line with the global agenda 2030.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced governments around the world to take unprecedented actions to reduce the increase in infections and deaths caused by virus infection. Palestine, in particular, has been a leader among the nations of the world in addressing the pandemic by taking preventive measures and arrangements to curb its spread. The local authorities were among the few institutions that continued to work after the declaration of a state of emergency and instructions not to travel, move or leave the house unless necessary. Local authorities have not faltered in providing all their capabilities and equipment to support the competent ministries, governors, medical staff and emergency committees to follow up on the needs of citizens and ensure their safety and provide them with optimal service.
Since the beginning of the crisis, local authorities have prepared contingency plans and programs to deal with the pandemic in Palestinian towns and villages. They have based their plans on the need to strengthen cooperation and coordination with all parties and support all parties to confront and deal with the emergency. For example, local authorities have been able to provide support to medical staff at various levels, from equipping quarantine centers, setting up health committees within local authorities in cooperation with volunteers, and preparing clinics and health centers to deal with any developments, setting up tents, rooms and centers to deal with suspected cases without access to hospital emergency departments to ensure the safety of medical personnel and patients. What local authorities have provided in this regard is part of the contribution of local authorities to achieving Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”
Local bodies have demonstrated the importance of promoting policy coherence in achieving sustainable development. Their response to the emergency has proven that they are not mere implementers of Agenda 2030 and that their role goes well beyond Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” They also highlighted the unlimited local capacity to drive development and achieve this ambitious, integrated and comprehensive program.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, local authorities have not only exercised their functions and responsibilities but have also exercised additional roles beyond their functions and tasks. They have intensified its efforts in collecting waste and maintaining hygiene and have continued to work on the sterilization of public places and institutions, which is part of the contribution of local authorities to achieving Goal 3: “Good Health and Well-being” as well as Goal 15: “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.”
Local authorities have not ceased to provide support to citizens at various levels. Social responsibility has been at the top of their agenda. The initiatives they have launched support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda by contributing to Goal 2: “End hunger, achieve food security,” Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality, and Empower all women and girls” Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” Goal 10: “Reduce inequality within and among countries,” and Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.” They have also launched several community initiatives targeting students through educational groups supporting high school students in particular and have carried out all the sterilization and preparation of schools prior to the high school exam to ensure the safety of students, teachers and staff. They have played a clear role in preparing educational facilities (Goal 4) and providing a safe, comprehensive and effective environment (Goal 11).
Local authorities have set up voluntary support committees for individuals, institutions and community and national forces to provide all means of community support, guidance and awareness support to citizens. These committees are part of the contribution of local authorities to achieving Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives,” Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” Goal 8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment,” Goal 10: “Reduce inequality within and among countries,” and Goal 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development.”
In so-called areas C, work is more comprehensive, more difficult and more complex. Local authorities there have to deal with exceptional needs, so the burden is greater and the roles and responsibilities are wider. Therefore, monitoring the work of local authorities in those areas shows that they contribute in one way or another to achieving eight Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 1: “End poverty,” Goal 2: “achieve food security,” Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives,” and reaching goals 5, 6, 7, which are centered on ensuring water availability, ensuring universal access to modern energy services, promoting steady and inclusive economic growth, and goals 10 and 16; reducing inequality and working together for development.
Local authorities have mobilized all available capacities to provide services to citizens and get out of this crisis with the least damage. They have developed new methods, methods and mechanisms to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This is exactly what the Sustainable Development Agenda calls for in Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives,” Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality,” Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water,” Goal 9: “Build resilient infrastructure,” Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” and Goal 12: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”
In addition to all these emerging needs, local authorities have continued to provide basic services to citizens, which means that local authorities have active participation in achieving the ambitious 17 goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, including their three dimensions — economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability — supported by good governance.