Over 100 national, regional and urban policy-makers attended the meeting on 4-5 December in Marseille, France, organized by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The aim of the event was to discuss how national governments and cities can better work together to foster growth and well-being in cities and their surrounding regions. UCLG representatives highlighted the crucial importance of local investment in basic services, improved multi-level governance, and strategic planning.
Participants included the Mayors of Austria (Vienna), Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Dakar (Senegal), Franceville (Gabon), Geneva (Italy), Lecce (Italy), Santander (Spain), Singapore (Republic of Singapore) and Valparaiso (Chile) and Ministers of the Czech Republic, Colombia, Estonia, France, Japan, Portugal, Morocco, and the USA, among others.
The role of local and regional leaders was acknowledged in both the Roundtable of Mayors and the Roundtable of Ministers. Khalifa Sall, Mayor of Dakar and Former Co-President of UCLG, emphasized the importance of building relationships between the different spheres of government and the need for Ministers to understand the role of Mayors. Several mayors agreed on this point and argued that the urban policy agenda should take account of the increasing economic role of cities and their mayors. Following this discussion, Paolo Perrone, Mayor of Lecce (Italy), said that “cities are taking on roles traditionally reserved for states”.
The sessions analysed questions that affect all levels of government. A number of related conclusions emerged over the two days:
1. Cities are innovating to “do better with less”: public budgets are tight and are likely to remain so for some time. Cities have to maintain ageing infrastructure and cope with environmental change in this context.
2. Better coordination of sectoral policies and better collaboration among governments at all levels are required. Urban resilience, for instance, must be built into national and city-level policy processes.
Former Mayor of Stuttgart and former UCLG Vice President, Wolfgang Schuster, highlighted the importance of an inclusive vision of cities and the need to create policies that reflect an increased confidence in local governments. He emphasized the importance of decentralization “to support the integrated management capacity of city leaders to reduce inequality and segregation and to make cities place for socially inclusive and creative communities.”
The sixth OECD Roundtable of Mayors and Ministers will be hosted by Mexico in 2015.