Elected representatives of local and regional governments were welcomed by the Vice President of ECOSOC and UN Secretary General Representative in New York. The UN Secretary General sent the following message to participants: "I welcome the creation of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments for 2015 and towards Habitat III". The Secretary General’s message also called for greater political representation of local and regional authorities to enable them to participate in global policy making.
Muchadeyi Masunda, the Mayor of Harare and Co-President of UCLG, opened the meeting on behalf of local authorities, offering the partnership of local and regional authorities in defining the new development agenda.
The Deputy Director of UN Habitat, Ms. Kirabo, pointed out that the battle for sustainability will require the adequate management of urbanization.
Over 150 representatives from United Nations Agencies, member states and development partners attended the session, where the members of the Taskforce presented their views on the shape of the Post 2015 agenda and the future agenda of Habitat III.
The members of the Global Taskforce stressed that democratic, inclusive, accountable and well-resourced institutions, will be essential to achieving development goals for 2015 and beyond. They underlined that local and regional governments need to be acknowledged as essential actors in this process.
“Bridging the distance between citizens and their governments, building dialogue that will lead to tolerance, understanding and sustainable peace, and constructing societies based on equality and accountability from the bottom up will be crucial milestones for any development agenda”, said Augusto Barrera, Mayor of Quito. He also emphasized the need to change land use and commerce, and to recover public ownership and regulation.
The Future We Want should enable individuals "to live and be what they choose", mindful of all the common goods of our planet, including cultural diversity and the environment, stressed Mr. Lombardi, Minister of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires and Co-President of the Culture Committee of UCLG.
“The rural urban divide needs to be bridged through cohesion among territories and subnational governance”, stressed the President of ORU-FOGAR, Paul Carrasco. He also called for the United Nations to take a political stand, and for the international community to acknowledge a new, specific role for subnational governments.
The meeting was addressed by Amina Mohamed, Special Advisor of the UN Secretary General for Post 2015 Development Planning, who celebrated having local governments on board on the development agenda. "Sustainability begins at local level and your partnership is of great value", she said.
The Vice Mayor of Lisbon, Mr. Salgado, highlighted the role of local government in partnering with all stakeholders to promote employment, in particular for urban youth. “We also need to ensure support of elderly people”, he argued.
Marc Bichler, Executive Director of UNCDF, expressed the interest of his agency in joining the work of the Global Taskforce, and the need to tackle inequalities through local authorities. This will be a key topic in the Post 2015 agenda, as local authorities are key service providers and democratic actors.
Berry Vrbanovic, Former President of Federation of Canadian Municipalities and representative of the Development Cooperation Committee, reminded attendees of the important role that city-to-city and association-to-association learning could play in the development agenda.
Nikhil Seth, Director of Sustainable Urbanization of UN DESA- stressed that we need to ensure that the institutions with the power to change people’s lives are more involved in the definition of the global development agenda. The meetings of the Global Taskforce are a crucial instrument to ensure inputs and mutual learning.
Marta Subirà Roca, Director of Environmental Policies’ Department for Territory and Sustainability, called for strong financial mechanisms to support subnational governments and for a strong renewed partnership that includes all stakeholders of development in a multilevel and multi-stakeholder governance system.
Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Bureau of Development Policy, UNDP, informed participants that it will be important to have local inspirational goals and targets, and that UNDP will play its role in ensuring that a renewed partnership is established with local and regional governments. The new strategic plan of UNDP will hopefully reflect the agency’s commitment to local development. “We need to ensure that local governments have more direct access to development resources”, he said.
Betty Maina, High Level Panel member and Chief Executive of Kenya’s Association of Manufacturers, said "cities and local governments will be at the forefront of sustainable development and partnerships will be required with private sector and also with civil society. Decent job creation is crucial in the poverty eradication agenda and local authorities will need to create an enabling environment in which businesses can flourish".
Frederic Vallier, Secretary General of Council of European Municipalities and Regions, raised four crucial aspects of development that are responsibilities of local authorities: governance, health, cohesion and education.
Carles Llorens, representing the government of Catalonia, called for inclusive policies in the international architecture of development cooperation and presented the role that sub-regional governments already play.
Josep Roig, UCLG Secretary General closed the meeting, reminding participants that local and regional government organizations have created the Global Taskforce in order to build a joint strategy to contribute to the international policy making within the framework of the Post 2015 development goals, Rio+20, and towards Habitat III.
The Taskforce represents the worldwide municipal and regional (sub-national) movement, which celebrates its hundredth anniversary in 2013, and which is represented in all of the countries of the world.
He praised the platform as a new international policy making partnership, and as a vital mechanism for achieving the Future We Want.
Read here the Global Taskforce Communiqué
Read here the publication "Local and Regional Governments: Partners for the Global Agenda".
Read here the statement of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.