The High-level Political Forum is the United Nations body responsible for global review of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The main theme of the 2019 Forum, held from 09-18 July at United Nations Headquarters in New York, was “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusion and Equality”. It was discussed how to empower people and ensure inclusion and equality, while assessing overall progress in achieving the SDGs, with special attention to SDGs 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17.
It is in this context that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres, received in audience, a delegation of mayors of the world, which represented several networks, members of the Global Taskforce, including UCLG and the Network of Locally Elected Women in Africa (REFELA) of UCLG Africa. This delegation was led by the President of the world organization of UCLG, Mr Parks Tau with the participation of the President of REFELA, Mrs. Macoura Coulibaly Dao, Mayor of the commune of Foumbolo-Côte d’Ivoire, and of other mayors from Africa and other continents.
During this hearing, the Secretary General of the United Nations mentioned, among other things, the importance of the role of local authorities in localizing the 17 SDGs of the International Agenda, to “Empower people and ensure Inclusion and Equality”, as discussed in this High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development of key actors to be considered for the implementation of the global development goals. The delegation received by the Secretary General of the UN was made up of elected officials.The challenge for the mayors present at this hearing and for the President of REFELA was to convince the UN Secretary General to give speaking time to UCLG, UCLG Africa, UCLG Africa’s Global task Force on Climate, and REFELA, at the United Nations General Assembly to draw attention be given to local authorities.
.Intervention of local elected officials :
The GLOBAL Taskforce could be a credible interlocutor. It is about moving governance mechanisms, by asking natioonal governments to consider the place of local authorities alongside them. The challenge is to unite forces and means of action to face challenges such as ecological emergencies, gender equality, poverty alleviation, educational development, the rebalancing of public policies, and global actions that today make people vulnerable.
Local authorities are at the forefront of meeting these challenges. They must have the means to act: recognizing their role and giving them a place in global governance would be an important step.
On behalf of REFELA, President Macoura Dao was able to send a strong message to the UN Secretary-General: “REFELA joins the various messages delivered by the representatives of networks of elected officials, and draws attention to the importance of the proximity of African women local elected representatives, to achieve the global goals. In addition, people should count on women mayors and female local elected representatives of Africa, grouped within REFELA, and on their determination to act for the implementation of SDGs 4, 5, 11 and 15. Women mayors and female elected officials propose to carry out three campaigns, (i) the campaign of African cities without street children; (ii) the campaign of African cities with zero tolerance for violence against women and girls; and (iii) the campaign of African cities for women’s economic empowerment; convinced that, if implemented, these campaigns would help make the cities and territories of Africa sustainable communities, where inhabitants – bothe male and female- would feel concretely the improvement of their living conditions. This is only possible with the improvement of the economic, social and political inclusion of women and the support of the international community “.
“Answer of the U.N. Secretary General: “You preach to a convinced, my wife is still a local elected official in Italy and I myself had local mandates … I understand the importance of the actions of local authorities and the specificity of their roles in the implementation of the SDGs. But this is a forum of national governments and I am not the only one to decide. It is obvious that some national governments are against putting local authorities in the limelight, but I support you … You must convince each of your natiopnal governments to take you in the official delegation … I congratulate REFELA: I know that women need support, and I will support you … ” »