As part of the 2021 edition of the European Development Days (EDD), UCLG Africa organized a Lab Debate on 15 June 2021 on the theme of “Unite efforts and cooperate around Innovative and Sustainable Cities”.
Organized in partnership with UCLG, UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance, the session made it possible to share experiences and approaches on innovative and smart sustainable urbanization, with a view to raising awareness of the centrality of partnerships at all levels. The following took part in the debate: Mrs. Thembisile Nkadimeng, President of the South Africa Local Governments Association (SALGA), Mr. Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen, Vice-president of the Climate Task Force of UCLG Africa, Mr. Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Mr Ishaku Maitumbi , Senior Advisor to the Regional Office for Africa , UN-Habitat , Mr. Andries Gryffroy, Member of the Flemish Parliament (Belgium), Mr. Greg Munro, Director of Cities Alliance , and Ms. Sherine Omondo, Young Leader (Kenya). The introduction of the exchanges was made by Ms. Carla Montesi, Director of the Green Deal and Digital Strategy, at the European Commission, and moderation was provided by Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.
In her introduction, Ms. Montesi said that “cities will play a central role in achieving green transformation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution: experimentation and knowledge sharing are essential to scale up”. SALGA President Mrs. Thembisile Nkadimeng stressed that “a green recovery is essential to strengthen local public services, especially so that they reach the people who need them most.” For her, “cities and regions have taken the initiative to show that it is possible and appropriate to continue climate action in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic“.
Sharing his experience, the Mayor of Chefchaouen, Mr. Mohamed Sefiani, explained that his city has relied on strategic planning to implement the vision of a sustainable ecological city. This has resulted in the replacement of conventional lamps by energy-saving lamps for public lighting and in the promotion of local products. Mr. Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, initiated the concept of “Green Friday” in his city. People are invited to walk at least 15 minutes and use public transport. “As mayors, we must think green, digital and resilience,” said Emil Boc.
UN-Habitat called for mobilizing investments for Africa, and Cities Alliance called on actors to activate access to data and basic services in African cities. In his speech, Mr. Andries Gryffroy endorsed the theme of the meeting by affirming that “the transition to sustainable cities will only be possible by uniting efforts and cooperating“.
The European Development Days also offered space for the “Global Village” virtual stands. The five major international networks of local and regional governments active in development cooperation (AIMF, CLGF, PLATFORMA / CEMR, UCLG, and UCLG Africa) hosted a common booth to showcase the actions of cities and regions in favor of sustainable and ecological transformation.
As a reminder, AIMF, CLGF, PLATFORMA / CEMR, UCLG and UCLG Africa signed a framework partnership agreement with the Commission of the European Union in 2015. Thanks to this partnership, the EU has recognized the role of cities and regions as state actors to address global challenges and implement shared global agendas at the local level.
Watch the videos intervention of the session