Participation of UCLG Africa in the meeting of the UCLG ASPAC Executive Board

From 11 to 13 April in Kathmandu (Nepal), UCLG ASPAC, with the support of the Government of Nepal, the Municipal Association of Nepal (MuAN), Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Metropolitan City and Dhulikhel Municipality, organized the first session of the UCLG ASPAC 2023 Executive Board meeting that brings together UCLG ASPAC members in the region. 

In addition to the Bureau members, UCLG ASPAC invited experts, partners including UCLG Africa and relevant stakeholders to participate in the plenary session and parallel sessions on: “inter-municipal cooperation for resilient and sustainable cities”. The aim was to share the experiences of ASPAC city leaders in order to strengthen cooperation and partnership opportunities between cities and local governments and their associations. Several themes were addressed. 

Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

In terms of monitoring and reporting, local and regional governments in the ASPAC region are increasingly engaging in sub-national reviews of SDG implementation, also known as voluntary local reviews (VLRs). The VLRs review allows a city to present a holistic and coherent picture of its economic, environmental, and social progress, providing a powerful storytelling tool that links its local strategy to a global agenda. While the reviews have no official status, the process of conducting these subnational reviews has multiple benefits for the entities that engage in them and for the implementation of the SDGs.  

Management of Sanitation in South Asia (MuNASS) 

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), UCLG ASPAC began in 2017 to build the capacity of local government associations in Bangladesh and Nepal to roll out the institutional and regulatory framework for fecal sludge management (FSM) through a program called Municipalities Network Advocacy on Sanitation in South Asia, MuNASS. Under the second phase of the MuNASS program, UCLG ASPAC plans to leverage its convening power with mayors in the Asia-Pacific region to develop Citywide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) and test innovations in data collection at the municipal level to report on Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 “Safe Managed Sanitation.” In addition, the program involves local government associations in 6 UCLG ASPAC member countries, namely Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. 

UCLG Africa participated in two sessions and was represented by Mr. François Yatta, Director of Operations and Technical Assistance of the organization.  The first session focused on women’s issues and gender budgeting and the second on the enabling environment for cities and local governments. 

Participatory and Gender Responsive Budgeting 

The objective of the session was to improve the knowledge of cities and local governments on gender mainstreaming and participatory, gender responsive budgeting (PGRB) approaches for more effective, equitable and inclusive budgeting in the context of good governance, gender equality and social justice. Women’s place in the political arena in the region is low and trends are not improving. Thus, the leading countries have very low scores. In addition, the Covid pandemic has not helped the high rates of violence against women and girls, and the marginalization of women in the decision-making process. 

The presentations focused on actions taken at the city and municipal levels to take women into account in planning choices, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI). Experiences from Nepal, Malaysia and the Philippines were presented on the support of poor communities in slums (water, sanitation, education, etc.) thanks to funds managed by women’s cooperatives and supported by municipalities and development partners. These initiatives allow for the improvement of infrastructure as well as services to the population. Women are also involved in the housing policies of the municipalities for the access of poor households. Other issues discussed were community initiatives in the face of examples of displacement of poor communities by municipalities for infrastructure. 

In some countries of the region, the Constitution have taken into account Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), which makes it possible to manage women’s issues in decision-making, equal rights and planning processes. Goal 5 of the development goals thus finds ways to implement a Gender Responsive Budgeting System (GRBS) in all public finance management at both national and local levels in municipalities. For example, in Nepal, GRBS was adopted by the Ministry of Finance in 2012 and other ministries in 2015. 50% of the program directly benefits at least 50% of women. To monitor this, Budget Management Information Systems (BMIS) are set up at national, ministry, provincial and municipal levels. 

During this session, the history of the establishment of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) was presented as well as the governance of REFELA and the main action lines of its 2022-2025 strategic plan: (1) Promotion of REFELA, implementation of REFELA national chapters and mobilization of local, national and international partnerships and funding (2) Relaunching, accompanying the implementation and monitoring-evaluation of the three Campaigns (3) Promotion, appropriation and implementation of the African Charter of Local Authorities on Gender Equality in Africa (4) Fight against climate change and commit to green and sustainable African cities and communities with a future for women and girls (5) Development of the leadership of local elected women and promotion of parity in local politics. 

CEE rating session 

The City Enabling Environment Rating (CEE Rating), which started in UCLG Africa in 2012 and moved to its 4th edition in 2021, is a product that has strongly interested UCLG ASPAC. Thus, in 2018, the ASPAC section conducted its first CEE Rating based entirely on the African experience. In a region where more than 40% of the population lives in cities and contributes 80% of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), the issue of building an enabling institutional environment for cities goes far beyond the simple issue of local service delivery; it strongly impacts the development of the region. In this region, urbanization has improved productivity, increased gross domestic product per capita, and become a major source of economic strength, although it has not benefited all urban residents in the region equally. The first edition of this ASPAC CEE Rating covered the 28 countries of the region based on the 10 criteria initially selected in 2012 by UCLG Africa.  

During the plenary session, Mr. Yatta presented the stakes and the institutionnal aspects to consider. The main lesson transmitted was that the CEE rating is not an end in itself and that it is necessary to go in three directions: (1) Developing the part on institutional reforms; (2) Linking the CEE Rating to an institutional text of the region so that the exercise has an institutional scope, as in Africa where the CEE Rating is an instrument for measuring the implementation of the African Charter on Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development; (3) Integrating the CEE Rating in the operations of the Asian Development Bank.  

In addition, a technical session was held to share the experiences of UCLG ASPAC and UCLG AFRICA in urban environment assessment, provide updated information on the new edition of CEE rating in Asia and the Pacific for 2023 and the new indicator number 11 of the CEE rating on environment and climate governance, communicate and coordinate with cities and local government associations regarding the data collection process for the 2023 edition of the CEE Rating in Asia and the Pacific. This workshop, which brought together all those in charge of data collection, was an opportunity to have a shared understanding for better data collection as well as the legislative and regulatory texts necessary for the finalization of the CEE Rating.