Let’s talk about the New Urban Agenda, Human Capital, Peer Review and Climate

11-15 November, 2019, Durban, South Africa, hosted the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. More than 3000 participants took part in the event, organized every 3 years by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).

During the five days, UCLG Africa made significant contributions through the organization of and participation in twenty sessions. African local and regional elected officials mobilized by UCLG Africa took part in the debates and shared their experiences on themes relating to local finance, urbanization, gender equality, migration, human capital, cultural policies, mobility, climate, territorial development financing and youth.

“The harm of climate change is increasingly visible in Africa. There is a need to further invest in this issue, especially at the local level,” Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra, Ghana.

See a review of the highlights of the sessions for local Africa. (Last part).

African expertise in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda

The Federation of Moroccan Urban Agencies (MAJAL), in collaboration with UCLG Africa and UN-Habitat, organized a session on the theme “Implementation of the New Urban Agenda on the African continent: promotion and implementation of city-to-city partnerships.” It was an opportunity to share with local governance actors the mechanism for implementing the New Urban Agenda, initiated by MAJAL and African cities at the Africities 8 Summit (Marrakech 2018).

The best instrument for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in Africa is the presence of urban agencies, expressed Mr. Alioune Badiane, former Regional Director for Africa at UN Habitat, Special Advisor at UCLG Africa. “The example of Morocco through MAJAL is a good illustration of this.  It may take another name elsewhere, nevertheless, this intermediate mechanism between the State and local authorities, endowed with human, financial and technical resources, could help to accelerate the implementation of this urban agenda, especially in an area where we still lack a lot of capacity on urban and territorial planning.”


To successfully share experiences, seven partnership agreements were signed between Moroccan cities and their counterparts on the continent: Rabat/Dakar, Casablanca/Abidjan, AlHouceima/AbomeyCalavi, Dakhla/Rufisque, Essaouira/Djinja, El Jadida/Souss and Marrakech/Yaoundé. The objective is for the twin cities to initiate a process of implementing urban agencies at the national level that work with communities to assist them in planning.

The added value of these inter-city partnerships rests on 3 pillars according to Mr. Moncef Fadili, expert in urban planning: the definition of a common vision with harmonized work on the ground; the integration of urban planning into national public policies; and for the long term, the creation of urban agencies, at the level of African partner cities, enabling cities to equip themselves with a decision-making instrument and a visibility given to the partnership for the strengthening of South-South cooperation.

This African solution to urbanization management problems will be evaluated in 2021 from 16-20 November in Kisumu, Kenya, during the Africities 9 Summit.

The panel included Mrs Najat Kouhlani, Vice-President of the Majal Federation, Mrs Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar, Mr Mohamed Sadiki, Mayor of Rabat and Mr Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.

Taking part in the session, the Mayor of Ouagadougou, Mr. Armand Béouindé, confirmed his city’s choice to join the project, as did the Mayor of Bangui, Mr Émile Gros Raymond Nakombo.

Promote local governance sensitive to Culture and Heritage

On 15 November 2019, the African Local Government’s Academy (ALGA) of UCLG Africa co-organized a session on the theme “Promoting local governance sensitive to culture and heritage,” in partnership with the Italian Romualdo De Bianco Foundation.

This Session was in line with the 2030 Agenda, in particular SDG 11 – Objective 11.4 and Aspiration 5 of the African Vision 2063: “An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.” It was an opportunity to highlight and share the commitment of UCLG Africa and its ALGA Academy for Culture and Heritage at the African local level and their activities to support the implementation of target 11.4 of SDG 11, to “Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.”

This was an opportunity to learn from the best practices of the main actors in this field, as well as UCLG Africa’s partners.  Chaired by the Honorable Mr. David Balaba, President of the Municipal Council of Iganga, Uganda, the panel was composed of Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of ALGA, Dr. Corinna Del Bianco, founder and board member of the International Life Beyond Tourism Institute and Mr. Simone Giometti, Secretary General of the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, Florence, Italy.

The main discussions and presentations of the session focused on:

– The presentation of the concept as well as the different perspectives of the “Life Beyond Tourism” movement, a new way of thinking that focuses its action on dialogue between cultures. This concept also contributes to the dissemination and affirmation of universal values such as respect and harmony between people, transforming the tourist experience from a simple opportunity for leisure into a precious moment of cultural encounter.

– The main achievements and progress made in the implementation of the UCLG Africa / ALGA partnership and the Romualdo del Bianco Foundation;

– The need for a common commitment to promote local governance sensitive to heritage, culture and heritage to support the implementation of the ODD.

Read the report of all ALGA sessions in Durban here.

Peer Review – good practice?

On the last day of the summit, 15 November 2019, UCLG Africa organized the session: “Peer Review for Enhanced Diplomacy.”  Mr. Innocent Uwimana, President of the Rwandan Association of Local Governments (RALGA) and Mr. Joseph Muanda Bindi, President of the Association of Local Authorities of Sierra Leone, shared their experience in the practice of the peer review program.

Peer Review (PR) is a process in which a local government peer from one local authority assesses another against an agreed standard of behavior and/or performance. Peers are equal partners and, thus, operate as ‘critical friends’. It is a systematic examination and assessment of the performance of a local government by other local government practitioners with the ultimate goal of helping the reviewed local government improve its policy making, adopt best practices and comply with established standards and principles. The examination is conducted on a non-adversarial basis and relies heavily on mutual trust among local governments involved in the review, as well as their shared confidence in the process. PR is not an inspection; it is rather a supportive process undertaken.

The principle of peer review was accepted by Mr. Joseph Munda Bindi, who is president of the Bo District Council and whose municipality was included in the program. The Bo district also had RALGA as a partner. Nevertheless, it was not easy to convince his city council. “Many equate peer review with an audit. This is not the case. It is a learning tool and re-initiation by a sister community.  It took me six months to convince my team. The results allow us to better face the challenges of our municipality and to gain more trust from citizens through a transparent administration,” he explained.

The session was moderated by Mr. Charles Patsika, Director of the Membership Department of UCLG Africa.

Signing of a letter advocating the creation of a Covenant of Mayors for Africa

14 November 2019 was marked by a meeting between the partners involved in the implementation of the CoM SSA initiative (Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa), included among them: ICLEI, UCLG Africa, the World Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCom) and C40. The meeting was also attended by Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra and member of the Board of Directors of the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCom).

The purpose of the meeting was to take stock of the various advances made during the last four years of implementation of the CoM SSA, and to lay the foundations for the new framework on which the next phase of CoM SSA will be built.

It was with this in mind that a letter was co-signed between GCOM Africa, represented by Mr. Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa and Mr Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of CEMR, accompanied by a note proposing the main lines of focus on which the negotiation process will be conducted with regards to the next stage of the CoM SSA.