Over 100 representatives of sub-national governments from around the world gathered at UN headquarters in New York on 15-17 May. Once again, local leaders asked states and the United Nations to listen to cities during Habitat III negotiations. The agenda for this meeting included, among others, two important sessions for the international municipal movement: the first session of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments, convened by the Global Taskforce, as well as the Habitat III Local Authority Hearings.
A historic moment for the international municipal movement: the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments
The first session of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments was held on 15 May, ahead of the Habitat III Hearings. This session was a historic occasion for the municipal movement, marking 20 years since the First Assembly at the Habitat II Conference, which led to the development of a network of local and regional governments that is now UCLG, as well as recognition of local governments as key partners in the Habitat Agenda.
At the first session in New York, participants analysed the first draft of the Agenda, and agreed on the local and regional government recommendations in response to this draft. Some of the issues highlighted at the Assembly included: the role of metropolitan areas, intermediary cities, small towns and rural areas in the Agenda; the impact of migration in cities; the need to strengthen municipal finances; the right to the city; the links between the New Urban Agenda and the main international sustainable development agendas; the potential of decentralisation and local democracy.
The Second Assembly is the mechanism through which local governments coordinate their combined contributions to the Habitat III process. The next sessions will take place at the UCLG Summit and Congress in Bogotá (14 October 2016), immediately ahead of the third session, which will coincide with the Habitat III Conference (16 October 2016) in Quito.
Habitat III Local Authority Hearings “Ensuring that no one is left behind”
The Hearings took place on 16-17 May. Mayors and local leaders presented their recommendations and shared the local perspective on national legal frameworks, urban planning, concerns and local commitments to the implementation of the Agenda.
Josep Roig, UCLG Secretary General, thanked the Bureau and Habitat III Secretariat for the invitation to listen to the voice of the cities and territories, and underlined the need to include local and regional governments at the negotiating table: “we would like to take part as members of the United Nations family, to be considered as the governments that we are and to have the opportunity to collaborate on a daily basis on the issues that affect us”.
The Hearings are a cause for celebration being the first United Nations consultative process that recognises local and regional governments as a specific constituency and which, for the first time, has placed cities and states on an equal footing.
Accordingly, Jacqueline Moustache-Belle, Mayor of Victoria and UCLG Co-President, once again expressed gratitude for the milestone that these Hearings have represented for the international municipal movement:
The invitation to be part of a global dialogue on fundamental issues in our daily work, such as housing, public spaces, empowering women, adaptation to climate change and many others, provided the impetus for our movement”.
Moustache-Belle also drew attention to the commitment undertaken by local governments to contribute to the New Urban Agenda: “We would like to emphasise that our recommendations are the product of an intense political debate and extensive collaboration between the local government networks globally”.
Social networks are abuzz with the #Listen2Cities hashtag on listening to cities at Habitat III
On the eve of the Hearings and the first Assembly session, the global networks of local governments, civil society and the urban community launched the #Listen2cities campaign to contribute to the debates held in New York. Using social networks, the campaign gave a voice to the cities and asked the international community to listen to local voices during the New Urban Agenda negotiations to be adopted at Habitat III.
These are the results of the Campaign. Please continue to use the #Listen2Cities and #Habitat3 hashtags so that our voice can be heard.
For more info:
- Read the report from IISD Ion the Habitat III Local Authorities Hearings
- IISD Policy Update: Local Authorities Bring Input to Habitat III Draft Outcome
- GTF news: Second World Assembly calls for UN and states to listen to cities at Habitat III Local Authorities Hearings
- Listen2Cities Campaign report