On 16th October 2016, prior to the Third UN Conference of Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), over 600 representatives of local and regional governments gathered in Quito for the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments and mayors from across the world came together to celebrate the adoption of the New Urban Agenda and to commit to play their part in its achievement.
Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito (Ecuador) opened the event and recalled that the Assembly is the result of months of work by international networks of local and regional governments, coordinated by the Global Taskforce, a coordination a mechanism facilitated by UCLG. Mayor Rodas also emphasized the importance of linking the New Urban Agenda to the SDGs, particularly SDG11 on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements.
Support for local and regional governments from the highest level
The Ecuadorian Minister for Housing and Urban Development, María de los Ángeles Duarte, emphasized the important role of local and regional governments in the achievement of the New Urban Agenda and called for national governments to commit to finance urban infrastructure and development.
The Secretary General of Habitat III, Joan Clos, pointed out that local and regional governments have demonstrated their commitment and ability to deliver on climate (at COP21 in Paris) and on sustainable development (with their contributions to the SDGs). He argued that “the problems of cities are the problems of humanity” and that “local authorities stand ready to provide the solutions to global challenges.”
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, celebrated the significant global progress in decentralization in the 20 years since Habitat II. Thanks to this, he said, local governments are now seen as a key partner for progress by their national counterparts, with many adopting the principle of subsidiarity in their countries. The Secretary General told the Assembly that “mayors governors and councilors are at the forefront of the battle for sustainable development… you are faced with the immediate demands of your people… and you must make the tough decisions to prioritize and manage budgets.” Moon acknowledged the efforts made over recent years to unite the constituency of local and regional governments, and the work of their international networks in contributing to the implementation of global agendas at local level and in facilitating the exchange of knowledge between cities. He predicted that Habitat III will strengthen this partnership and closed by encouraging local and regional leaders to “raise their voices” to contribute to sustainable urban development across the world.
Local and regional government´s contribution the New Urban Agenda
UCLG members have shaped the statement of the World Assembly to the Habitat III Conference which was adopted during UCLG World Congress in the framework of the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders that took place last week in Bogota, Colombia. The text clearly reflects the perspectives and priorities of our members, builds on the results of UCLG’s flagship GOLD (IV) report, launched in Bogotá, and complements the “Bogotá Commitments and the Action Agenda” adopted by the UCLG World Council, as well in the context of the framework of the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. The Bogotá Commitments and Action Agenda constitute UCLG’s contribution to the global debate on sustainable development, and states that “local and regional governments will need to be at the centre of the public policy process, translating normative ideals into concrete policies and practical investments that will remake human settlements as the primary driver of a new, sustainable era.” It also posits that “the answers generated within urban settlements and territories will pave the way for global solutions”.
Over 45 local and regional leaders addressed the World Assembly, celebrating the inclusion of many of their recommendations in the text of the Quito Declaration, and committing to work to achieve the New Urban Agenda in their cities and territories.
Local and Regional Government participation at Habitat III Conference
The report GOLD (IV) report “Co-creating the Urban Future” was also presented in the framework of Habitat III Conference in two sessions, on October 17, at the Urban Library and at the Local Authorities Lounge, on Tuesday 18, hosted by the Global Taskforce.
UCLG and its members prepared a large number of side, networking or launch events to take place these days in Quito. UCLG have participated, among others, in the Dialogue Urban Governance, Capacity and Institutional Development: follow-up of the Policy Unit 4 work, together with the London School of Economic (LSE) that took place on the 18th October. On 19th October will be launched the Public Space Policy Framework which presents key public space policies and the role of local governments in public space.
Take a look at all the activities and events that our members, committees and partners organized in the framework of this Conference and come by the Local and Regional Governments Lounge facilitated by UCLG which it is located just a few steps away from the main meeting room of the Conference, the Agora. You cannot miss us!
Mayors and local leaders ready and willing to make the New Urban Agenda a reality
The need for progress in decentralization and local self-governance was a strong theme at the Assembly, with the Mayors of Montreal, Medellín, and Mexico all calling for increased autonomy to allow local and regional governments to deal with new global challenges, arguing powerfully that local democracy is the strongest foundation of sustainable development.
The Prefect of Pichincha, Ecuador, Gustavo Baroja, called for an end to the urban-rural divide and the inequalities that it creates in favour of an integrated territorial approach to sustainable urban development.
The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, celebrated the reference to the right to the city in the New Urban Agenda, and called for the 21st century to be the century of the feminization of politics, the century of cooperation rather than competition. Colau’s call for gender equality and female leadership at local level was echoed by many mayors, men and women, including the mayors of Surabaya, Oklahoma, and Bangangté.
Many mayors reiterated their call for increased financing for local and regional governments, with Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas, celebrating the Quito Declaration’s commitment to ensure reliable financing mechanisms in metropolitan areas, while the mayors of Belo Horizonte, Dakar and the regent of Trenggalek called for increased fiscal powers and improved access to climate finance for sub-national governments in enable them to meet their growing responsibilities.
The newly elected president of UCLG, Parks Tau of Johannesburg, closed the Assembly by calling for the international community to listen to cities and recommending that the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments become a significant and representative mechanism through which local and regional governments can provide political guidance and technical follow-up on the global sustainability agenda beyond Habitat III.
Local and regional governments of UCLG and the Global Taskforce have had a decisive impact on the New Urban Agenda and celebrate its adoption. Local and regional governments from across the world will keep working on its achievement and its implementation at local level.
You can see the World Assembly in pictures at our photo gallery
- Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments
- Full statement presented by the World Assembly at Habitat III
- Bogotá Commitment and the Action Agenda
- Ban Ki Moon's remarks to the World Assembly
- Participate in the #Listen2Cities social media campaign
- What local and regional government’s bring to the global table
- Local and regional government programme at Habitat III
- Our Habitat III Journey
- Local authorities thank Ban Ki-moon at Habitat III