UCLG World Council 2021

The meetings of the World Council took place on 16-18 November 2021. Under the theme Smart Cities and Territories, Pillars of the Common Agenda, the World Council brought together over 500 mayors and councilors who shaped the work plan and strategic priorities of the organization and it was organized in an hybrid format in the framework of the Smart City Expo World Congress. 

You can click on the following link to access the overview programme of the World Council. Visit our interactive programme here

Day 1 & 2: 15/16.11.2021
Day 3: 17.11.2021
Day 4: 18.11.2021


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Day 1 & 2: 15/16.11.2021 - UCLG meets to align their priorities with the common agenda

Our 2021 World Council was a special gathering for the entire municipal movement. After almost two years of virtual gatherings, the UCLG Leadership gathered in a hybrid manner in the framework of  the Smart Cities Expo World Congress. Almost 100 people will meet physically and 400 virtually over the course of the week in a summit that addressed the potential of local and regional governments to guide a smart recovery at the center of the agenda.

The Financial Management Committee and the Presidency Meeting took place on Monday, November 15th. UCLG Treasurer Berry Vrbanovic provided updates on the financial state of the World Organization, in a session that also counted with the presence of honorary auditor Maria Julia Reyna.

Mayor of Barcelona and UCLG Special Envoy Ada Colau welcomed the Presidency and Vice Presidency of UCLG at the Barcelona City Hall in the Presidency Meeting, highlighting how “it is a very important moment for the organisation, an important time to welcome all the challenges that UCLG has to face more united and powerful than ever”. The meeting, that saw the enlarged presidency of UCLG gather, set the way forward for the upcoming meetings at our World Council and counted on the presence of the UCLG Secretaries General.

The UCLG 2021 World Council officially started on Tuesday, November 16th. The day counted with the participations of the Presidents, Copresidents Jan Van Zanen, Mayor of the Hague, and Thembisile Nkadimeng, as well as the participation of UCLG Envoy for the Presidency and mayor of Soria Carlos Martínez and President of UNACLA and Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin. Vice President Carola Gunnarsson, mayor of Sala, and Mohamed Saadie, President of UCLG MEWA. Mayors of Lampedusa Totò Martello, Mayor of Moscow Alexei Shaposnikov, Mayor of Chefchaouen Mohamed Sefiani, mayor of Tunis Souad Ben Abderrahim, Deputy Mayor of Quito Gissela Chalá also participated.

The first of the statutory sessions was Committee on Statutory Affairs, which gathered over 50 participants setting the way forward for the rest of the statutory gatherings, in a session that debated the way forward for the leadership of UCLG and introduced the committee to the updates on the Daejeon World Congress set to take place in 2022. 

The UCLG Executive Bureau gathered over 130 people virtually and more than 50 physically. The meeting counted on the presence of Pilar Conesa, Curator of the Smart City Expo World Congress, who highlighted the importance of hosting the World Council there by arguing that “other stakeholders will help cities transform, but the voice of cities needs to be at the center of discussions around smart cities”. 

Dr. Mohamed Boudra, UCLG President, introduced the meeting by stating that “this complex year has also been one in which we have begun to see each other, to envision a post-COVID future with our communities at the centre, and to reinforce the importance of equity in post-pandemic recovery”. Copresident and Mayor of The Hague Jan Van Zanen co-chaired the session, highlighting the importance of the UNSG’s Our Common Agenda for the movement, highlighting how “This report is of prime importance for our constituency and I have to stress that we feel very proud of our interlocution with the United Nations”.

Secretary General Emilia Saiz presented the outcomes of the work of the year to the Executive Bureau: “In 2021, we have put public service provision at the center; devoted our research agenda to advancing governance knowledge on emergencies, inequalities, housing; propelled learning tools to strengthen resilience and reinforced SDG localization” .


Important partners such as Navid Hanif, Director of Financing for Sustainable Development Office, UN DESA, provided their support to the advocacy and actions of UCLG, in particular in regards to sustainable financing, arguing that “Local governments are advancing our collective vision for sustainable development every day. We need to support local governments, ensure sufficient resources, and promote partnerships.”

The Forum of Regions kicked off its exchanges by hosting the first meeting of the World Forum of Regions, with debates on the fundamental role of regions in promoting a territorial vision of global agendas. This inaugural session of the UCLG World Forum of Regions allowed a discussion on the innovative practices and unique contributions around three main thematic blocks that had been defined in consultation with member regional governments, and compose the agreed Roadmap.


“This first forum shows the maturing process of the regions' section and its growing importance in the network of local and regional authorities”. Pablo Jurado, President of the Consortium of Provincial Autonomous Governments from Ecuador – CONGOPE and Governor of Imbabura.

Our #UCLGMeets World Council will continue tomorrow with the session on Smart Cities and Territories, Pillars of the Common Agenda, which will gather the UCLG leadership debating how to harness technology in favour of communities; and the Business Session of our World Council. Don’t miss it!

Day 3: 17.11.2021 - Our first hybrid World Council nominates a collegiate Presidency to guide us towards the next World Congress

Our hybrid #UCLGMeets World Council reached a high note with two of the key moments of the week: The Plenary Session of our World Council was held under the title “Smart Cities and Territories, pillars of the Common Agenda”. President Mohamed Boudra, Mayor of Sala and Vice-President for Europe Carola Gunnarsson; Copresident Thembisile Nkadimeng; Mayor of Kitchener and UCLG Treasurer Berry Vrbanovic; Mayor of Tunis Souad Ben Abderrahim; and Vice Mayor of Quito Gisela Challá took the stage at the Smart Cities Expo World Congress main stage to debate the importance of harnessing technology for the benefit of humanity, and exchanging their visions on what makes local and regional governments “smart” and allies to achieve the UN Secretary General’s Common Agenda.

The Business Session of the World Council gathered over 150 participants, physical and on-line, including representatives from the UCLG Policy Councils, and was the pinnacle of a hybrid conference which included Philippe Rio, Mayor of Grigny; Linda Voortman, Co-Mayor of Utrecht; Alison Evison, President of COSLA; Pilar Díaz, Deputy to the President's Office and delegate for International Relations, Barcelona Provincial Council; Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona and UCLG Special Envoy to the United Nations; Joanne Vanderheyden,mayor of the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc and President of FCM; Fatimetou Abdel Malick, President of Nouakchott Regional Council; Josep Mayoral, Mayor of Granollers; Francisco Toajas, Mayor of Las Cabezas de San Juan; Rory Nisan, Councillor of Halton Region; and Qiang Sheng, Director of Foreign Affairs Office, Xi’an

President Mohamed Boudra passed the torch after retiring from the UCLG Presidency, paving the way towards collegiate Presidency that will count on the shared knowledge and experience of  Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin as Governing President; Mayor of Xi’an Li Mingyuan; Mayor of Iriga Madelaine Alfelor; Mayor of Soria Carlos Martínez; Mayor of San José Johnny Araya; Mayor of Konya Uğur Ibrahim Altay; Mayor of Kitchener Berry Vrbanovic; Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau; Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo; and Mayor of the Hague Jan Van Zanen. President Boudra will remain committed to UCLG as Honorary President and accompany the World Organization as we travel towards our 2022 World Congress. . Co-president Thembisile Nkadimeng will also leave her mandate at the end of the World Council as she has been appointed Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. 


“UCLG is a galaxy that's moving forward, making progress. We can still achieve many things. I will always stay with you, we are the same family, we work together for our communities” Mohamed Boudra, Honorary President of UCLG.

The World Council also counted of the presence of important partners such as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who praised the role of LRGs in combating inequalities and fostering the protection of human rights; commending the joint work with UCLG towards establishing a network of local and regional governments that protect human rights. Assistant Secretary-General for the United Nations Volker Türk, who commended the commitment of our constituency towards the UN Secretary General’s Common Agenda.

“Collaboration is extremely important. Our common agenda also includes the New Urban Agenda, and it is critical to combine our voices, ensure local participation, to make our shared objectives a reality”. Volker Türk, Assistant Secretary-General for the United Nations.

“The role of LRGs in human rights obligations has never been so important. It can drive towards a people-centered process, can drive communities to build societies that are fairer and sustainable” Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


The celebratory spirit of the World Council was felt in the IODP Ceremony, which awarded the “Best Practice in Citizen Participation Award” to the city of Lima, whose“lima joven acciona” experience was critical to engage youth in the economic, social life of Lima. The fourth edition of the UCLG Culture Award was also awarded during the World Council, with Medellín and Ségou winning in the “City” Category;  and Eusebio Leal and Vandana Shiva being awarded in the “People” category.


The 2021 World Council will come to a close on Thursday with the final session of the UCLG Forum of Regions and the UBUNTU Session! Thank you for joining us, physically and virtually, as we begin our journey towards our 2022 World Congress!.

Day 4: 18.11.2021The Forum of Regions and the UBUNTU Advisory board provide a way forward to achieve the Pact for the Future

The final day of the UCLG World Council in the framework of Smart Cities World Council saw the closure of the World Forum of Regions with the presentation of its declaration. Over 100 participants joined the High-Level Political Dialogues in a session that addressed the unique role of regional governments to improve ties and collaborative governance towards a future of solidarity with communities, for present and future generations.

The session was introduced by Copresident of UCLG and Mayor of Konya  Uğur Ibrahim Altay, and counted on the presence of Pablo Jurado, President of the Region of Imbabura, President of CONGOPE, UCLG Vice-President and President of the Forum of Regions; Fatimetou Abdel Malick, President, Regional Council of Nouakchott; Aníbal Gaviria, Governor of Antioquia; Mr.Kim Borisov, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the Far Eastern Federal District; Sergio Graf, Secretary of Environment and Territorial Development of Jalisco and Vice President for the Americas of Regions4; Mercè Conesa, Director of the INCASOL, Government of Catalonia; Luciano Rivas, Governor of Araucanía; Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, President of the European Committee of the Regions; and Thembisile Nkadimeng, Vice Minister for Cooperative Governance, honorary copresident of UCLG.

“The UCLG Forum of Regions is essential for the renewal of the social contract, setting a key roadmap and showing the importance of a territorial approach to localising global agendas” Uğur Ibrahim Altay,  Copresident of UCLG and Mayor of Konya.

“The Forum of Regions is essential for the renewal of the social contract that places the care of people and the planet at the heart of territorial policies. We have established a key roadmap to develop instruments that contribute to dialogue and public policies.” Pablo Jurado, President of the Region of Imbabura, President of CONGOPE,

Dorothee Allain-Dupre, CFE Head of Regional Development and Multi-level Governance Division, OECD;  Marcela Villarreal, Director, Division of Partnerships and UN Collaboration, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Edgar Pieterse, UCLG UBUNTU Adviser, Director of the African Centre for Cities were the partners invited to the session, providing insights on how regions could partner to ensure an ecological transformation and be drivers for economic growth and wellbeing for populations.

“We need the active engagement of cities and territories: we cannot think of food systems that only work for cities or rural areas. We need to think of full territories in which all dwellers count.” Marcela Villarreal, Director, Division of Partnerships and UN Collaboration, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The wisdom of the UCLG UBUNTU advisors was on display during the last day of our World Council. Participants provided policy recommendations and envision future scenarios to guide the development of the Pact in preparation as we head into the Great Reset, inspired by the themes of the UN’s Common Agenda.

“What we are discussing today are  human rights issues of everyday life: feminising politics, politicising everyday life, and everyday life is not being afraid, because fear is the biggest barrier.” Ana Falú, UBUNTU Advisor

“We cannot speak about reset agenda if everyone does not agree about the key issues. We need to prepare not for conflict, but for contest. This contest is real and has multiple dimensions that need to be addressed” Aromar Revi, UBUNTU Advisor

Ubuntu advisors Aromar Revi; Ana Falú; Jorge Pérez Jaramillo; and María Fernanda Espinosa introduced the conversation in which they were joined by Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen and President of the UCLG Forum on Intermediary Cities; Noraini Roslan, Mayor of Subang Jaya; Gissela Chalá, Vice Mayor of Quito;  José Manuel Ribeiro, Mayor of Valongo; Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala and UCLG Vice President for Europe; Tunç Soyer, Mayor of Izmir; Fabiana Goyeneche, director of international relations, Montevideo; Marcela Petrantonio, Secretary of International Relations of Tandil and Executive Secretary of Mercociudades; Qiang Sheng, Director of Foreign Affairs Office, Xi’an; Med Wajdi, Vice Mayor of Sfax; Sergio Arredondo, Executive Secretary of FLACMA. Partners Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Copresident of GAP; Jon Aguirre Such, Urbact; and Agustí Fernandez de Losada, director of the Global Cities programme of CIDOB.

“Sustainability, resilience, solidarity are fundamental issues to readjust our priorities for the Pact for the Future. Strengthening the social and solidarity economy, especially in intermediary cities, must also be a priority.” Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen and President of the UCLG Forum on Intermediary Cities

“We must start giving the possibility to girls and boys to develop skills in the same way, especially  when discussing digitalization and technology” Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala

“In the New Urban Agenda process, the participation of all stakeholders is critical. Our collaboration with UCLG is essential to bring the dimensions of care and women to the center of debates” Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, Copresident of GAP

This has been it for our #UCLGMeets 2021 World Council! We have learned to navigate the hybrid dimension, we have renewed our leadership towards the 2022 UCLG World Congress, and we are gearing up our collaboration with partners to deliver a Pact for the Future that is aligned with Our Common Agenda. Ready to deliver for our communities. Stay tuned for more in 2022!