Synthesis report of the Forum of Local Authorities of Cotonou, Benin

The forum of local authorities: “Territorialization as a lever to accelerate the implementation of ndcs in Africa: the contribution of associations of african local authorities for the mobilization of african cities in favor of climate action.” 

Cotonou, February 27-28, 2020

The second Pre-COP 26 Forum was held in Cotonou, Benin from February 27-28, 2020, with an audience of 200 representatives of cities, local and regional authorities and African non-state actors under the theme, “The contribution of associations of African local authorities in the mobilization of African cities in favor of climate action.”

I – Context and objectives 

The climate emergency, announced by the Secretary General of the United Nations in September 2019 at the Climate summit, calls for greater creativity in the mobilization of key players, in particular local communities, and supporting the collective effort to close the gap in the last special report of the IPCC in relation to the adaptation and mitigation goals formulated by the Paris agreement.

With this prospect in mind, the Initiative of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), launched in November 2015 by the European Union (DEVCO Directorate General), constitutes an appropriate platform to strengthen the bottom-up approach and raise the energy and climate challenges in Africa. An increasing number of local authorities in Africa, who wish to join the CoM SSA initiative, now provides proof that it is appropriate to include local authorities in the process of the implementation of NDCs in Africa.

Within this context and on the eve of COP 26 in Glasgow, the holding of this 2nd forum in Cotonou, Benin, rightly considered as a leading country at the regional level in the commitment to face the challenges of the climate emergency, comes at a timely moment to provide an answer to the following questions: How can associations of local authorities in Africa mobilize cities to meet the challenges of the climate emergency and seize the opportunities that present themselves; and what must be done to achieve such a goal?     

The main objective of this forum is to: 

  • mobilize and formalize local climate action through the adhesion of all the municipalities of Benin to the initiative of the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA); 
  • strengthen vertical coordination by signing a memorandum between the central and local levels;    
  • launch the accreditation of UCLG Africa with the Green Climate Fund and the adoption of a local government program for the implementation of NDCs in the WAEMU area.
  • II- The course of proceedings and the conclusions reached

    With the participation of more than 120 people, including 90 mayors representing the municipalities and cities of the WAEMU area in particular, the opening session was chaired by Mr. Abdoulaye BIO CHANE, Beninese Minister of State in charge of Planning and Development, in the presence of Mr. Alassane SEIDOU, Beninese Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance, Mr. Luc SETONDJI ATROKPO, President of the National Association of Municipalities of Benin (ANCB), Mr. Jean Pierre ELONG MBASSI, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mrs. Véronique JANSEN, Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union in Benin, and Mr. Bouri SANHOUIDI, Permanent Representative of UNDP in Benin.

    During the session, speeches emphasized the leadership of Benin, which is hosting the Forum of Local Authorities on the Climate Agenda for the second time. Speakers underlined the importance of this forum on the eve of the COP 26 and the role of local authorities in the implementation of actions to meet the challenges of climate emergency and seize the opportunities offered to them, particularly in terms of financing.

    At the end of the opening session, the President of the ANCB signed the accession on behalf of all the municipalities of Benin to the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa CoM SSA. To strengthen vertical coordination, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of the Living Environment and Sustainable Development, the ANCB and UCLG Africa on the territorialization of the NDCs and access to climate finance. These two signing ceremonies confirmed Benin’s desire to be at the forefront of the territorialization of the NDCs.

    To meet the goals of this forum, sessions were organized around five themes, namely: 

  • The governance framework:  Identifying governance tools and mechanisms that need to be developed in order to strengthen the role of African Local Authorities in the mobilization of African cities in favor of climate action that is aligned with national commitments.
  • The strategic framework: Identifying advocacy strategies to be put in place to position the National Association of Mayors as a key partner in the implementation of NDCs. 
  • The operational framework: Experiences to be shared as part of the implementation of tools and instruments strengthening the bottom-up approach (development of SEACAP process).
  • The financing framework: How to mobilize and further accelerate the financing of energy and climate plans at the territorial level. 
  • The cooperation framework: How to further structure cooperation around the implementation of NDCs in Africa.
  • The following recommendations resulted from these debates:

  • Improve the institutional and regulatory framework governing the decentralization process;
  • Ensure a multi-level governance framework that promotes the consistency of territorial climate action with national programs and NDCs;
  • Strengthen the bottom- up approach starting from the Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs), by taking advantage of the ongoing revision of the NDCs;
  • Support the accreditation of UCLG Africa by the countries of the WAEMU region with the Green Climate Fund; 
  • Strengthen the data collection, monitoring, reporting and verification framework for the implementation of the Climate agenda in our territories;
  • Subscribe to the establishment of a Readiness Africa program targeting local and regional governments with a view to initiating the transition to sustainable and resilient local development. 

    Photo Album of the forum of local authorities of Africa, Cotonou here

    International Women’s Day 2020: Message from the President of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA)

    Read the message transcribed here. 


    Postponement of the Official Launch of the celebration of Rabat, African Capital of Culture








    The Organizing Committee of the African Capitals of Culture informs the public and interested institutions that the official launch of the celebration of Rabat, African Capital of Culture, initially scheduled for March 26, 2020, is postponed to a later date in accordance with Order No. 4917 of the Ministry of the Interior dated March 4, 2020, on the measures taken as part of the fight against the risk of propagation of the Coronavirus – COVID19.


    For the Organizing Committee,

    The President

    Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi

    The Secretary General of UCLG Africa

    Download The Release here

    Read the press release relating to the designation of Rabat, African Capital of Culture 2020-2021.

    International Women’s Day (March 08, 2020) ” Generation Equality’’

    International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020, coincides with the Beijing + 25 International Conference and is an opportunity for the United Nations (UN-Women), to take stock of progress made and to bridge the gaps for achieving “ Generation Equality,”, here.

    The central theme of this year’s March 8 fits perfectly into the ambitious agenda of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), the Standing Commission for Gender Equality of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa). An agenda that calls for action by African cities to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (SDG5) and to ensure that their territories are open to all and are safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG11).

    Read more here

    We are Hiring : Staff for the Academy of Local Governments of Africa (ALGA)






    UCLG Africa is launching a call for applications to join the staff of its ‘African Local Government Academy  (ALGA).

    Two posts are open:

    – Officer in charge of Accreditation, Labeling and Quality Assurance

    -Officer in charge of the African Local Human Resources Observatory

    To have all the necessary information to apply for one of the proposed positions: the requested profile, missions, tasks, required skills, … interested candidates are invited to click on the document here and read it carefully.

    Please note that interested candidates for each position MUST include:

    1- A cover letter, specifying salary expectations;
    2- A detailed CV;
    3- Certified copies of degrees and work certificates;
    4- Professional references;
    5- And a photo ID.

    A candidate can apply to only one of the three positions.

    Applications should be submitted to The Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-Africa) before March 31, 2020 at the following e-mail addresses: and or to: The United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-Africa), 22, Essaadyine Street, Hassan District, Zip Code 10020, Rabat- Morocco, with the mention in the object “ALGA RECRUITEMENT STAFF”.


    During the World Urban Forum 10 in Abu Dhabi, 8-13 February, the theme Connecting Culture and Innovation was the focus of UCLG Africa’s sessions that took stock of the emerging innovative approaches and practices that harness culture and innovation as drivers for sustainable development.  Culture provides the connections between urbanisation, innovation and pride as a basis for achieving inclusive, safe, and resilient cities and to this end, UCLG Africa’s side events were organised to explore how Africa’s Rich Cultural Heritage specifically lends itself to the sustainable development of Africa’s cities.

    What Culture means to Africa’s Sustainable Development.

    One of UCLG Africa’s newest projects, the “African Capitals of Culture,” consolidates culture as the fourth pillar of the sustainable development for African cities and territories. “Culture is at the beginning and end of all development,” said poet-president Leopold Sedar Senghor. From the cities of Rabat in North Africa to Maputo in Southern Africa, rapid urbanization is impacting on city development creating many challenges, but also emerging opportunities. The programme will bring together African cities, home to immeasurable cultural richness and diversity, to share best practice on how this cultural wealth and expression can contribute to the development of cities and its populations.

    Read more here. 

    Cotonou Declaration

    Forum of Municipal Elected Officials and Presidents of Local Governments Associations 
    Associations of Local Governments, Cities and Territories, key players in the implementation
    of the International Climate Agenda
    Cotonou, Benin, February 27-28, 2020

    We, Presidents of National Associations of Local and Subnational Governments of Africa gathered on February 27 and 28, 2020 in Cotonou with a view to structuring cooperation between communities within the framework of the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
    Conscious of the urgency of climate action at the local , national and global levels given the disastrous effects of extreme weather events on our cities and territories,
    Convinced of the need to make Climate Action everyone’s business, requiring in particular the awareness, involvement and contribution of all local actors mobilized around local and subnational elected officials ; 
    Alerted by the conclusions of the recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), who consider that the effective implementation of all the Contributions Determined at the National level by the States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will nevertheless lead to an increase in the temperature of the planet of the order of 3 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era if the current trend is maintained; 
    Taking into account that 2020 is the year of the start of the process of revision the Nationally Determined Contributions proposed by the States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in preparation for COP 26 in Glasgow ; 

    see declaration here
    see the video of the declaration here

    REFELA: Advocating for the involvement of more women


    During the World Urban Forum, the Network of Locally Elected Women in Africa (REFELA) advocated for the involvement of women in more decision-making bodies.  Mrs Fatna El Khiel, President of REFELA Morocco insisted on this aspect in her introductory remarks to the session organised by the network under the theme “Role of REFELA of UCLG Africa in the successful implementation of sustainable development objectives (SDGs)”.  During the session, Ms. Khiel presented the 3 REFELA campaigns: “African cities without children on the streets”, sponsored by Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco; “African cities with zero tolerance for violence against women and girls” and the campaign of “African cities for women’s economic empowerment and women’s leadership”.

    The local elected women present in Abu Dhabi have shown an interest in REFELA’s actions. Mrs. Bongile Mbingo, Ezulwini City Councillor, (Eswatini , Ex Swaziland) is in charge of setting up the REFELA country chapter in Eswatini. The official launch is hoped for March 2020. The number of women involved in local governance is very low. “There are not enough women elected to municipal councils. Most of them are appointed. In our municipal council we are 02 women out of a total of 10 members,” says Ms. Bongile. This situation can be explained firstly by the fact that women are afraid to go out and campaign. Therefore, she welcomes the existence of REFELA, which presents itself as an excellent platform to learn from other locally elected women on the continent and also as an opening to allow local women elected women of Eswatini to address issues encountered on the ground. For her, the priority REFELA campaign for her country is the “African Cities for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Women’s Leadership”.

    Watch her video interview  

    “It’s time for women to take power”, Mrs. Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar

    The mayor of Dakar, Mrs. Soham El Wardini has appealed to women for their involvement in local governance. “I call on women to get involved in local governance and even in politics. You know that in Africa, it is women who elect men. Why elect people who then leave you stranded? Women are powerful, they run the world. Because everything that men do, it is women who push them to do it. It’s time now for women to take power“.

    Watch her video interview below:

    African Territorial Agency: What is expected in 2020

    In this year 2020, the implementation process of the Africa Territorial Agency, which is a financial cooperative institution to facilitate the access of African cities and local authorities to the financial market, is following its course. After the meeting of the members of the Agency’s founding club held in November 2019 in Durban (South Africa), the roadmap foresees for this year the holding of two general assemblies.

    The first on “Approval of the economic model and risk assessment framework”. The second on “Approval of the institutional structure and internal rules”.

    In view of these deadlines, two studies will be launched on the economic model and risk management.  The results of these studies will make it possible to adopt the best model adapted to the realities of African cities and local authorities, taking into account the specificities of each region.

    While waiting for these two deadlines, the ATA is being popularized among local authorities and UCLG Africa’s partners. This was the case in Abu Dhabi during the WUF. A working session was held with the African Development Bank (ADB), with whom collaboration on this issue has been underway since the beginning of the process. Notably, during the definition in 2019 of the “Readiness” program which was done with the support of the AfDB to prepare the first candidate communities for the loan, to strengthen their institutional capacities, improve the mobilization of own resources, ensure sound financial management and improve the quality of local public expenditure.

    The working session was held in the presence of :   Mr. Léandre Nzué, President of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre ELong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Amadou Oumarou, AfDB Director of Transport and ICT, Mr. Stephan Atchia, Manager of the AfDB Urban Division and Mr. François Paul Yatta, Director of Programmes of UCLG Africa.

    As a reminder, the roadmap extends over the period 2019-2022, to reach the first issue and the first loan in 2022. Three key factors support this approach:

    – To have cities and territories invested to convince the international financial community;

    – Have a sequenced process to guarantee the solidity of the institutional and financial set-up;

    – Have States and institutions to sponsor an innovative and ambitious approach.

    More information on the Africa Territorial Agency (ATA) : see LEDNA Newsletter here.

    Preparation for Africitites 9 and future partnerships

    The World Urban Forum also provided a framework for UCLG Africa to hold working sessions and bilateral meetings.   Thus, an update was given on the preparations for the Africities 9 summit scheduled for 16-20 November 2021 in Kisumu, Kenya. Mr Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governor of Kisumu, Mr Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa and Mr Mpho Moruakgomo, President of BALA, UCLG Africa Vice-President for the Southern African region, took part in the exchanges. It was agreed to start the mobilization of local and regional authorities as of now.  The proposed wording for the theme of the summit is: “Implementing Agenda 2063 for real: the role of African intermediate cities”.

    The working session with the Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union (AU), Ms. Minata Samaté, focused on the upcoming organization of an African forum on urbanization by the AU. The collaboration of UCLG Africa was requested for this project. UCLG Africa agreed to participate and also proposed that the theme of one of the next AU Heads of State Summits should be “Managing urbanization in the transformation of the continent’s local and regional authorities“.  In this perspective, the African forum on urbanization would be a first step.  The Commissioner was also re-launched on the elaboration of the Charter on Urban Development by CTS No. 8. She gave the assurance of her committee that the latter charter would be drawn up by CTS No. 8 alongside the two existing charters: the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development and the African Charter on Housing and Urban Development.

    During his audience on 10 February with General Mahmoud Shaarawy, Minister of Local Development of Egypt, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, proposed the organization in Cairo of an international conference on waste management as part of the celebration of World Cities Day followed by an exhibition fair showing good practices made on the continent.  The Minister took into account the proposal whose feasibility will be studied by his services with a view to a response in March.

    The two parties will meet in March in Cairo for the signing of the headquarters agreement for the UCLG Africa office for the North Africa region.

    A meeting was also held between UCLG Africa and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for future collaboration on sanitation issues.