Around 1500 delegates from local government, NGOs and institutions met in Matola, Mozambique from 4 to 6 May 2016 to attend the 16th Conference of the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD). The city council of Matola hosted the conference which was supported by the national government and partners.
The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyussi opened the conference with the statement:
“Leaders should build capacity and not be masters- the people are the boss”.
After the opening ceremony, the event developed under the affirmation by Fernando Pindado, the Catalan Government’s deputy director of local level participation that:
Municipalities are key to consolidating democracy".
Participative Democracy in African Cities
The IODP assembly recognized the dynamic leadership of Mayor Calisto Cossa, who initiated several participatory policies and programs in Matola and promoted the IODP on a global level and in particular in Africa. At a local level the promotion of the IODP was particularly successful in schools.
Young people are highly interested in participating, so the IODP builds understanding of how to be involved in local affairs and politics”.
Participatory democracy is gaining importance in the political context of African cities. Bachir Kanoute, the coordinator for Africa, showed the rapid spread of participatory budgeting, now implemented in 417 municipalities, confirming the reality and need for decentralization and new democratic instruments, especially including youth.
Roundtables and plenaries offered the chance for discussions and exchange on participatory budgeting, art and expression, consultation, education, organization, the New Urban Agenda, methods, digital platforms, gender and more.
On behalf of UCLG the UCLG Committees on Social Inclusion and Peripheral Cities were represented by Gwangju and Nanterre, as well as members of their executive secretariats. Sara Hoeflich, from the UCLG World Secretariat, intervened in the plenary about the SDGs, reiterating the connection between the evolution in citizen participation and the global agenda. A video on localizing SDG 16 was also launched.
New alliances towards Participative Democracy
During the assembly of the National Association of Municipalities of Mozambique (ANAMM), which took place on the eve of the conference, a national network on participatory budgeting and a network on the inclusion of children and women were approved. These networks will form part of the IODP and will articulate the exchange of experiences and the association between municipalities to develop participative experiences.
During the assembly, the IODP expressed their intention to formalize cooperation with UCLG. IODP Africa will also sign an agreement with UCLG Africa to promote and support participatory democracy initiatives.
The city of Montreal was elected as the new president of the IODP and will be the host of the next conference which will take place in 2017. The 10th award for Good Practices was given to the city of Canoas and can be visited here.
The conference closed with the launch of the exhibition “decentralized cooperation to democratize cities” which documents the lessons learned from the UCLG project, finalized last year. The exhibition was organized by the Brazilian cultural centre in Maputo and will be open to the public for the next 2 weeks.