On 3 December 2015, as part of the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, mayors of cities from across Latin America gathered in Paris for a meeting convened jointly by the Euro-Latin American Alliance for Cooperation between Cities (AL-LAS Project), the Mercociudades network, the South American Cities Network (REDCISUR) and the Latin American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Associations (FLACMA). The occasion was marked by the signing of the Declaration of Mayors of Latin America Committed to Unity in Diversity.
The declaration seeks to initiate a Latin American organization that will unite cities large and small, rural and urban through an international platform of dialogue and advocacy which will facilitate a discourse with international organizations and be a voice in decisions on the global agenda. As cities and local governments begin to carry more weight regarding decision making at a global level, a dialogue between national, regional and global networks of local government is more important than ever, as is the collaboration of subnational governments, cities, municipalities, federal states, provinces, and their associations on projects and programs across the continent.
Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul and President of UCLG, opened the session thanking the political leaders for their presence and conveying the great importance of representation from Latin America, which will be instrumental in defining the global agenda for the next 30 years.
The disussion continued with Daniel Martinez, Mayor of Montevideo, on behalf of the AL-LA’s cities, who spoke of sharing knowledge and experience of cities in the network and in international cooperation to boost development with the added value of learning from others. Sadi Melo, representing FLACMA, stressed the need for a common voice among local governments in order to advance. The world needs cities and their local authorities to act boldly stated Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogota representing REDCISUR, since local actors have a big responsibility to perform on the frontline of the big issues of our time including climate change, poverty and social exclusion. Nadia Campeao, Vice-Mayor of Sao Paulo and Monica Fein Mayor of Rosario, on behalf of Mercociudades, reiterated the need to build an integrated network that enables territories to get closer to solutions. Finally, special guest Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid, stressed the importance of citizen participation to validate the work of this platform.
The declaration signed by the Mayors aims to establish a new network of cities and local governments in line with the principles of democracy, transparency and respect for pluralism, diversity and equity. The objective is to create a forum for decision-making with a view to formalizing the constitution by the 5th World Congress of UCLG in Bogotá in October 2016 in order to bring a unified body of Latin American Cities to the 3rd Summit of the United Nations Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to be held in Quito, Ecuador straight after.