Solidarity is a part of local DNA and must guide the international agenda

UCLG Executive Bureau

Local and regional governments in Porto Alegre commit to strengthening their voice in international processes.

Around 200 representatives of local and regional governments from over 35 countries and all world continents participated in the UCLG Executive Bureau meetings that took place between 10 and 12 June 2015 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, focusing on the Post-2015 development programme and the New Urban Agenda.

The Executive Bureau meetings, which took place over three days, aimed to discuss the organization’s strategies to contribute to the international agendas that are currently being negotiated: the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, the new international framework for the fight against climate change (COP 21), and the New Urban Agenda of Habitat III.

In his opening speech, the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbaş, recalled the great generational responsibility that this moment represents, and underlined two key requirements to ensure that the vision of local and regional governments is taken into account in the construction of the international agenda: 1) ensuring advocacy activities around UCLG and the Global Taskforce, as articulation mechanisms for local and regional governments; and 2) working to bridge the gaps between big agendas and the real needs of citizens. 

Latin American experiences at the heart of the international municipal movement

With relation to the Latin American context, the President recalled the participative spirit of Porto Alegre and highlighted “the importance of ensuring that the relevant experiences of Latin American cities are reflected in the international agenda”, emphasizing the important links that unite UCLG and the Latin American region.

The Mayor of Porto Alegre, José Fortunati, also stressed the notion of solidarity that must guide the agenda for cities within the international framework and the importance of ensuring that inequalities are addressed at the local level to achieve global development.

“We must count on a strong presence in all regions, starting with Latin America. For this reason, it is important that we have available the necessary spaces for debate and deliberation.”

In this regard, Latin American members of UCLG and their networks ensured their commitment to work to strengthen the presence of the region within the framework of the World Organization, committing to develop an articulation mechanism.

The knowledge acquired in the region was valued by all participants, seen as a priceless good that must be nourished in other regions, as well as in the global agenda.

Bogotá 2016

The content of the 5th UCLG Congress and the Summit of Local Leaders that will take place in Bogotá in October 2016 was an important item on the agenda of the Executive Bureau; the various sessions of which were chaired by Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan; Fathallah Oualalou, Mayor of Rabat and Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener.

The Presidency called for members to mobilize and actively contribute to the content of the agenda of the Congress, since the outcomes are expected to define the position of local governments in the Habitat III Conference.

“Local voices for a more human future”, which will be the theme of the Congress, will be the culmination of a process to develop the Agenda of Local and Regional Governments for the 21st Century, as well as the starting point for the implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the New Urban Agenda.

“Nothing about us without us”: the global agenda is local

The Mayor of Montevideo, Ana Oliveira, echoed the voices of other mayors of the region, signalling that the New Urban Agenda cannot be defined without including local leaders and elected representatives that are accountable to their citizens.

The importance of protecting common goods and defending public policies to guarantee equality and inclusion before private interests were emphasized during the debates.

Solidarity, culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, peer learning and the Right to the City were cited as essential themes of the New Urban Agenda, which should be based on local democracy.  

Further, new ways for local and central governments to collaborate in order to regulate processes of urbanization and metropolization, innovation and local economic development, universal access to basic services, and strategic urban planning with the participation of citizens, were also highlighted during the discussions that took place in Porto Alegre.

City-to-city cooperation, building on the programmes developed by UCLG and its members, was identified as an extremely important tool for development. Ernesto Daniel Chambisse, Mayor of Xai Xai in Mozambique, and Marcio Lacerda, Mayor of Belo Horizonte and President of the National Front of Mayors of Brazil (FNP) highlighted the rich experiences obtained through the exchanges between Mozambican and Brazilian cities.

The common theme of the meetings centred on constructing the global agenda from the local. Participants affirmed that responding to the needs of citizens is in the DNA of local governments, and that the efforts of UCLG must concentrate on transmitting this message to the international community in order to influence national policies.

Enzo Lavolta, Vice Mayor of Turin, stressed the importance of working on inclusive, social and local economic development. He recalled that Turin would host the Third World Forum on Local Economic Development where UCLG is a partner, along with UNDP, ILO and UCLG members.

With this framework, the Executive Bureau of UCLG confirmed its commitment to work on the articulation of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments in Quito, taking place at the same time as Habitat III, through Global Taskforce and in close collaboration with other networks.

The climate change agenda: COP 21

The international agenda on climate must unite the great challenges and potential contributions of cities around the world. Members of UCLG were invited by Co-President Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, to commit to develop public policies that contribute to the mitigation of climate change and, at the same time, build resilient cities. In collaboration with sister organizations, the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments will contribute to the development of the commitments to be defined within the framework of COP 21, starting with active participation in the Lyon Summit on Climate and Territories, the Bogotá Climate Summit, and the 1000 Mayors Summit in Paris.

The Mayor of Strasbourg and President of CUF, Roland Ries, emphasized the responsibility of and opportunities for cities in the climate agenda, and called for members of UCLG to endorse the commitment of Lyon.

“We, the members of UCLG, representing authorities from over 270,000 territories with 2/3 of the world’s population, are committing to encourage our members to limit their emissions, with a quantitative target for each territory in accordance with the 2ºC scenario, taking into account their specific realities and level of development, and provided they are supported adequately in terms of appropriate means of implementation and governance frameworks”.

Patrick Klugman, Vice Mayor of Paris, expressed that the city of Paris was committed to providing an appropriate place for the voices of local elected officials to be heard during COP 21.

A network of networks built on local democracy

Participants identified the recognition of UCLG as a strategic partner for the European Union as a recognition of the work carried out at global level by the association movement. It was also considered an important incentive to strengthen the network of networks, as well as a responsibility to develop and expand this movement, which is associative, inclusive, pluralistic and built on local democracy.

Gender equality, and in particular equal representation in the decision-making bodies of UCLG, remains a challenge, highlighted by Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malick, Mayor of Tevragh Zeina in Mauritania and President of REFELA, the Network for Locally Elected Women of Africa. Given this, concrete measures such as the appointment of regional caucuses of Women Representatives in the Executive Bureau were proposed to ensure the increased representation of elected women in the World Organization.

International local solidarity

Solidarity with local governments affected by crises, whether by natural disasters or conflict situations, emerged as an ongoing priority of UCLG, supported by the work of the members.

The Executive Bureau, through the Mayor of Diyarbakir, Gültan Kişanak, expressed its concern about the situation of migrants and displaced persons in many parts of the world, and demonstrated its will for the World Organization to promote actions of support.

The situation in Nepal, the Syrian refugee crisis and the migration emergency in the Mediterranean also merited special mention, in order for members to define future actions.

See you soon in Kazan!

Ilsur Metshin, Co-President of UCLG invited the Executive Bureau to continue its deliberations in June 2016 in his city, Kazan. The World Council in 2015 will be held in Paris, France, in the framework of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP 21), at the invitation of Co-President Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.










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