The Global Agenda of Local and Regional Governments

What is the Global Agenda? 

The Global Agenda of Local and Regional Governments for the 21st Century sets out the vision and aspirations of sub-national governments, and explains the contributions we can make to ensuring sustainable development in a rapidly changing world.

Local and regional governments are best placed to lead, since every community, settlement and territory must ‘co-produce’ a response that is context-specific in order to fulfil the agendas’ambitions. This response must address the challenges of poverty, rising inequality, insecurity, environment depletion and climate change. 

The following recommendations for action build on the research and consultations with local and regional governments within the framework of the Global Report on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD IV). They also draw upon the recommendations of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments in the Habitat III process and they are enclosed in the Bogotá Commitment and Action Agenda.These recommendations contain a series of local, national and global actions that will be necessary in order to achieve the major global sustainable development agendas, including the 2030 Agenda, The Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the New Urban Agenda adopted at Habitat III.

The Global Agenda is the result of an extensive in-depth consultation process with UCLG’s members across the world, including elected leaders and local government professionals representing metropolitan governments, peripheral and intermediary cities, small towns and regional administrations.

Line of action of local and regional governments

  • The first set of recommendations on ‘local action’ addresses how sub-national governments can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework and the New Urban Agenda.
  • The second set of recommendations on ‘national action’ focuses on national legal, institutional and policy reform.
  • The final set of recommendations on ‘global action’ tackles three of the most potent enablers of national and local development: global governance, international financing and decentralized cooperation. 

All the recommendations seek to empower local and regional governments to take their rightful place at the head of a new international agenda for inclusive and sustainable development.


Realization of the New Urban Agenda on the ground                      

As a result of the growing links between global and local challenges, local and regional governments now play a greater role in the regulation of the urban fabric and territories, and the protection of the commons. However, they often lack the resources to meet these new challenges, putting pressure on their ability to fulfil pre-existing responsibilities. To contribute to what in the SDGs is termed a ‘transformed world’, local and regional governments across all world regions must be proactive and commit to the following actions:


1. Improve their strategic management capacity.
2. Boost participation by fostering a buoyant and autonomous civil society to co-create cities and territories.
3. Harness integrated urban and territorial planning to shape the future of cities and territories.
4. Ensure access to quality and resilient infrastructures and basic services for all.
5. Foster local economic opportunities to create decent jobs and social cohesion.
6. Put the ‘Right to the City’ at the centre of urban and territorial governance.
7. Lead the transition toward low carbon, resilient cities and regions.
8. Promote local heritage, creativity and diversity through people-centred cultural policies


A new multilevel governance system

Local leadership will only flourish if there is a national enabling environment for local and regional governments with adequate legal frameworks and resources, as well as a transformation of top-down approaches. Moreover, it can only succeed if the uneven decentralization found in many countries and regions is urgently addressed. National governments should:

1. Renew institutional frameworks to promote shared governance and effective decentralization.
2. Build coherent and integrated national urban and regional policies in consultation with sub-national governments.
3. Rethink sub-national financing systems to reconcile financing with sustainability.
4. Involve local and regional governments in the follow-up of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, supported by accurate territorialized data.


Local and regional governments’ rightful place at the global table

For global policies and agreements to properly harness local experience and commitment, the place of local and regional governments in international policymaking needs to change. They must be part of a structured consultation as a recognized and organized global constituency rather than subject to ad hoc consultation processes. The efforts of local and regional governments to organize and produce informed inputs must be acknowledged as part of the decisionmaking process by taking the following steps:

1. Include organized local and regional government networks in the governing structures of international development institutions
2. Create new instruments to finance local sustainable infrastructure and services
3. Support decentralized and city-to-city cooperation, learning and knowledge-sharing to foster innovation.