UCLG Africa Secretary General participated in the meeting of the Committee on statutory affairs, as part of the proceedings of the UCLG Executive Bureau, in Porto Alegre, on 10 June 2015, from 12:00 to 13:30.
The meeting first adopted the report of the Committee on statutory affairs that met in Haiku, China. The meeting also discussed progress of strengthening the UCLG networks and sections launched with the organization of the first UCLG Retreat in Barcelona, in February 2015.
The retreat insisted on the need:
1. To increase and consolidate membership; 2. To find a balance between the advocacy role and concrete service provision with direct added value for the members; 3. To ensure continued Political involvement and leadership; to engage in the work of the committees and working groups, in particular the following ones which work is key for the preparation of the Habitat III Conference: urban and territorial governance; financing urbanization; local economic development; urban planning; inclusive cities and territories; environmental sustainability; culture; local government’s role in development and decentralization; 4. To grow the UCLG as the Learning Network through exchange of knowledge and experiences through social networks; through the development of communities of practice; through decentralized cooperation and peer-to-peer action learning.
These orientations were translated into key actions with dedicated budget lines. It was felt important to reinforce the political representation of mayors in UCLG meetings. In conclusion, the Secretary General proposed that bilateral meetings should be held between the secretariat and the regional sections.
On the item on the renewal of the UCLG governing bodies in 2016, a calendar has been proposed as follows:
By October 2015: the chair of the Committee on statutory affairs sends out letters to sections informing them of the calendar, the sections will be requested to provide a detailed overview of how elections will be organized in their region, including meeting dates.
December 2015, on the occasion of the World Council in Paris: the Committee on statutory affairs will discuss any relevant issues related to the electoral process, and will agree upon the launch of the call for candidatures for the Presidency, and report to the Executive Bureau accordingly.
January 2016: the UCLG sections launch the electoral process and the secretariat will launch the call for candidatures for the Presidency, in accordance with the rules agreed by the Committee on statutory affairs.
May/June 2016, on the occasion of the UCLG Executive Bureau: the Committee on statutory affairs receives the initial nominations from sections, and receives candidatures for the Presidency and Treasurer.
September 2016: an extraordinary meeting of the Committee on statutory affairs will consider the nominations presented in terms of balanced representation; the Committee on statutory affairs will consider if the candidatures for the Presidency meet the agreed criteria.
October 2016, during the UCLG World Congress: the Committee on statutory affairs Will propose a process of appointment and election through reports to the Assembly and Council; the General Assembly will appoint the representatives of the World Council; the World Council will appoint the representatives of the Executive Bureau; the World Council will elect the Presidency.
The Committee on statutory affairs addressed the organization of the second World assembly of local and regional governments in the framework of the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, as a follow up to the first World assembly of cities and local authorities (WACLA) that took place in 1996 in Istanbul during Habitat II. The registration will be open to all local and regional governments that register through one of the international networks that form part of the Global Taskforce. The assembly will agree upon key messages and select speakers to present the outputs to the Habitat III Committees and forums.
The Committee further addressed the membership requests. The issue of the Ukrainian association of district and regional councils which apparently chose to be member of CEMR. This fact is questioned by the Eurasia section who asked that there is a need for an open consultation with Ukraine in presence of all the protagonists. The committee received the candidature of the city of Kazan that wishes to host the next UCLG World Executive Bureau.
After the Committee on Statutory Affairs, a meeting of Latin America local Authorities held a meeting under the co-chair of Mayor Topbas, UCLG President and Mr. Fortunati, Mayor of Porto Alegre.
Mayor Topbas recalled that Latin America is an important player for Habitat III, since the City of Quito will be hosting this conference. Of course the decentralization process is now being reversed in many countries, and our aim is to keep the message of decentralization having buy-in. We need a convincing narrative on the common solution to tackle the increasingly urbanizing world, where local governments have to play a critical role. It is important to have a solid basis, in particular in Latin America. The aim of the meeting is linked to the raison d’être of the UCLG. The agenda ahead of us will have impact over 20 years, and we need to be together to come up with solutions for peace and prosperity. Local governments need to provide sustainable solutions for local population, this is why there is need for cooperation across local governments networks. Mayor Topbas further explain that there is need for a stronger UCLG network, in order that the voice of local governments has impact on the post 2015 development agenda. He underlined that Latin America is key for the global organization, and trust that the Latin America colleagues are conscious of their role in the year ahead.
Deputy Mayor of Sao Paolo started by congratulating the participants on behalf of Mayor Fortunati. It is stimulating to know that Latin America is the most urbanized region in the world. Fighting inequality is an imperative in cities like Sao Paolo, with a lot of challenges such as housing finance, access to land and secure tenure, master planning, and the relation between housing and employment.
The issue of housing is not the only one. There is need to address as well the issue of transport. Focus should be focusing on public transport and the use of bicycle. Sao Paolo initiated the Mercosur colloquium to define a new political agenda for our Metropolis, joined by Mexico, Santiago de Chile; Bogotá, Colombia. The outcomes of the colloquiums will contribute to the definition of the new urban agenda, and in particular the inputs to the regional report for Latin America. She extended an invitation to the 20th Summit of the Mercosur to be held in September in Sao Paolo.
The Mayor of Montevideo insisted on the right for the city. Since most of South American inhabitants live in cities, it is necessary that the living conditions of everyone be the concern of the city leaders. The agenda to build for Habitat III should be related to the sustainability of our cities, tackling the conflict of interests in the cities manifested mostly in environmental issues.
The issue of financing should be also addressed to give an answer to the spatial segregation. We have in our cities, we need that Habitat III gives insights to address these issues and define priorities of interventions to better the lives of city dwellers. UCLG is a good conduit to voice this case at the international level.
Mayor of Canoas, Brazil, insisted on the fact that new challenges are brought about by choices made by leaders of city and national Governments. Many Mayors wish to have the right to the city, and Porto Alegre is the place which saw the birth of the World social forum and participatory budgeting. We wish that Porto Alegre be the kick off place for the City of the future and the future of the cities, and that of the city of rights and the rights for the cities, and the right for the City for all.
The representative of the Brazilian Presidency said that Brazil is coordinating FCCR and the Mercosur Summit. Latin America is determined to fighting inequality and Uruguay is showing the way on this front.
Presidency of Brazil support the initiatives of local governments coming together at the Latin America level. The Brazilian government will defend the strengthening of cities, including their participation at the Habitat III Conference. Brazil is careful to respect the sensitiveness of partners. The national confederation of Brazilian cities recognized the role of city government in the upcoming Habitat III Conference. The proper integration of city perspective is key to the success of the Conference.
There is a need to include small and medium size cities in this perspective. There is also a need for a integrated vision of rural and urban areas to establish a balance in territories. It is also very relevant to increase exchange experiences between cities in the region and throughout the world.
Representative of Bogotá began the dialogue on priorities of cities in Latin America by saying that local authorities should be aware of the reality of inequalities and most cities and should reflect on how they should be facing this daunting issue. The response right response to act through UCLG. The UCLG should be facilitating the conclusion of partnerships with civil society organizations and the communities for local governments to making progress on rights and democracy; and with national governments to facilitate the building of an enabling environment for cities and local governments, and financial schemes which are compatible with the responsibilities devoted to local authorities.
Another priorities for which partnership is necessary with the private sector to addressing unemployment and job creation.
There should not be any competition in terms of representation. In the international scenario, cities need to work with the UN in their own right, through their world organization, UCLG, and its regional sections. Latin America is determined to work towards a common voice, because of the responsibility that the region bears in this year and next year’s international agendas such as the international conventions on Climate Change (Bogotá, September 2016), 5th UCLG world congress (Bogotá, October 2016), and Habitat III (Quito, October 2016). Cities need to prepare their political representation through a single Latin America voice representing all the Latin America local authorities networks.
The Representative of Quito first presented apologies from the Mayor who could not make it to the
Porto Alegre World Executive Bureau. Latin America as the most urbanized part of the world, is prepared to play its part in the success of the Habitat III conference, and wants to get in the upcoming meetings united. The UCLG-A should work towards the definition of what the urban agenda will look like in the coming 20 years. There is need to better coordinate actions in order to create synergies of efforts. UCLG is the coordination mechanism that will help fix the participation of the mayors at the second world assembly of local and regional authorities. Local governments in each country need to be in the official representation of their countries.
The representative of Porto Alegre wished that the discussion be in clear sync with the communities, as private interests are more and more taking over public interest. The demand and problems are with local government, the money is always with the central government. This should also be at the heart of our debate. In his concluding remarks, Mayor Topbas thanked the participants for the frankness of the dialogue, recognizing the value of acting collectively. The overall aim is eliminating poverty, fighting child abuse, addressing mass transportation problem, defining urban identity and inclusiveness. We need to unite our forces to be influential at the UN, in face of our governments, and have impact on the other stakeholders. Never forget that we represent people that expect a lot from us as city leaders. Only through building international platforms of local governments would we allow local people to influence the global agenda and inspire its definition.
On 11 June 2015, the UCLG World Executive Bureau met under the leadership of Mayor Kadir Topbas, President of UCLG, in presence of Mayor Fortunati, from host city, Porto Alegre, Brazil, and all members of the World Executive Bureau.
In his opening remarks, Mayor Topbas said we are here talking about the future of humanity. This meeting will lead us in new horizons, since Latin America will host Habitat III, in the framework of which the second world assembly of cities and regional authorities will be held. It is also in Bogota, Colombia, that the UCLG will be holding its 4th World Congress, where a new leadership of the organization with a new president will be elected. The UCLG president has been invited to be one of the 26 Panelists to advise the UN secretary general on the post 2015 development agenda, among which the definition of a new urban agenda in a moment when the world is entering in a new urban age. The climate change is also on the agenda and the COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015, another challenge for cities and local authorities.
UCLG has been recognized as a global ally for the UN by the UN secretary general and members approved the creation of the Global Task Force by UCLG to facilitate interaction between local authorities and the UN system. The UCLG also used UNACLA to convey the UCLG concerns and messages to the U through UN Habitat.
Confucius said it is difficult to resolve important problems from a long distance. Therefore proximity is key in finding suitable and sustainable solutions. Among key issues local Authorities should prioritize are financing local governments, addressing the migration issue, encouraging the participation of citizen in local development and democracy, empowering women in local governments, promoting the right to the city for all.
Local governments need to stress that they are solution providers, and not problems makers. But this message will be conveyed only if local governments are prepared and united. We need to share the same feeling about the future of the world. That is why UCLG organized in February 2015 a Retreat with other stakeholders to work on the narrative and controversies about the performances and impact of UCLG interventions and actions. Mayor Topbas ended its address by wishing every success to this World Executive Bureau.
After the President remarks, the panel session was open on the new urban agenda: priorities, cooperation and learning, strategic alliances.
Under the session 1 of the panel Mr. Enzo Lavolta, deputy Mayor of Turin, said that cities are at the frontline in addressing global issues. The main alternative IS to strengthen autonomy of local Authorities. The goal in front of us for the next year is an ambitious one, going far beyond politics. Local representatives should give the communities the responsibilities they have to be able to achieve this goal. In Turin a forum will be organized with the communities to talk about the environment and mobility in the City. We need daily response from the community so that there is collective response in a stronger way.
Mr Jorge Enrique Rojas, secretary for social integration, City of Bogotá, stated that cities are a huge responsibility in addressing consumption issues. They need to share their reflections through decentralized international cooperation, to respond to territorial needs and human experiences. Mayors are agents of change, and they are not there to act as civil society organizations.
Local governments are public authorities embedded in the democratic processes. They are the custodians of citizenship and respect to human rights in the cities. Mr Elkin Velasquez, UN Habitat regional Director for Latin America, said that the Golbal Task Force showed what role the UCLG can play in the global debate. It is the merit of UCLG to have set up the global task force. There is a space for local authorities in the Habitat III processes. There are other events where the voice of mayors can be heard, for example the production of regional reports for Habitat IIII. Regarding the influence of local authorities, they should understand that they are the ones feeding this new urban agenda, and Porto Alegre IS an example for this.
Ms. Ines Maghalhaes, National Secretary of housing, said that Brazil is ready to deepen the governance of the international mechanisms by allowing the local authorities to participate in the debate at the international agenda setting. Brazil is prepared to support the presence of local authorities around the table of negotiations in the post 2015 agenda and the new urban agenda, and the Climate change agenda. Mechanisms should be established on content and forms.
There is an ongoing debate in Brazil on the need for effective participation in the building and implementation of the Habitat III agenda. Debating on the relevance of local and national governance is not an issue. There is need for a cooperative and collaborative public governance Debate President of REFELA How to overcome social segregation? Mayor of Xaixai, Mozambique raised concerns about the big companies imposing rules of the the game over poor cities. What can be done to mitigate that risk?
The UCLG-A secretary put three questions:
1) How to reconcile the search for competitiveness and the need for inclusiveness?
2) Following which logic will we be defining priorities in our cities: the logic of the market, or the Logic of public regulation, or How to combine the two logics to have a balanced approach in the definition of priorities?
3) We declare that cities are engine of growth: but whose growth, and whose cities?
Mayor Oualalou of the city of Rabat, Morocco, said we need to address 3 main requirements:
1) Be vocal in the three global conferences around the corner, namely, the Finance for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015; the COP21 in Paris, France, in December 2015; and the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.
2) The world is now emerging from a deep crisis, which have had a lot of impacts on cities. This way out of the crisis opens new opportunities for cities, taking into account the need to provide innovative solutions and approaches, including in the domain of decentralized cooperation.
3) Local authorities should endeavor to fighting instability and addressing the consequences of State crisis in failing States, in particular in the Southern board of the Mediterranean sea, and to taking their part in the management of migrations generated by this situation. Local Authorities should be at the frontline in finding and implementing new appropriate and innovative solutions to these three requirements.
The debate then focused on a policy debate on resilience with the following panelists:Mr Marcio Lacerda, Mayor of Belo Horizonte, President of the Federation of Brazilan Mayors Mr. Glademir Aroldi, Vice President of National Confederation of Municipalities of Brazil Mr Ernesto Daniel Chambisse, Mayor of Xai Xai Mr Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient cities, Rockefeller Foundation The panel discussed the issue of representation in a context of expansion of the use of social media.
There is a big discredit of the political parties, and this is happening in the same moment that local authorities is working on the improvement of efficiency and performance in participatory governance. Instead of open meetings and boards including all stakeholders, there is still a lot of distrust in local democracy processes. It is no longer to recentralize the decision making, but despite this, the issue of building trust between government and the people is still pending. To overcome this mistrust, public authorities should be working in coalitions at all level of governance, and building win-win alliances with the other stakeholders. The implementation of the subsidiarity principle gives the community the social control on cities initiatives. The way citizen exercise control on the leaders is an important way forward.
The model of decentralization and territorial development should be improved, taking advantage on the most privileged situation like Brazil. In the case of Argentina, it is important to define who is responsible of what? The development of cities was based on competitively, and the model is now changing towards integration and complementarity. This is a new world where cities should be cooperating and not isolated. Cities have more power when they are part of powerful networks of cities. We should rethink the concept of habitat, beyond responding to basic needs. Liverpool asked what to do about capturing the enormous experience encapsulated in the experience gathered within the UCLG network.
The cooperation between Mozambican and Brazilian citizen is based on the way to bring people closer. We need public policies that improve People’s lives. Failing to do that raises mistrust between Political leaders and the citizen. Célestine Keutcha confirmed that the local authorities are the doctors of development. We need to strengthen cooperation including around the gender issue, as the case between Brazilian and Mozambican mayors.
The vice president of BALA insisted on the cooperation between neighboring countries in terms of provision services and autonomy of local authorities for benchmark purposes and replication of approaches.
The City of Dyiarbakir, Turkey, insisted on the autonomy of local government that gives meaning to cooperation. The best cooperation is to share knowledge in particular in rights to housing and building social housing and financial support to poor City dwellers so that they can access housing. Should we prioritize use of housing or property rights. In term of right to housing, gender inequality is the rule. What can be done to curve this situation in social housing policies?
Mayors of Chile stated that the important unity before us is the evaluation of the MDGs that showed that all stakeholders did not participate. This opens a new avenue for new stakeholders such as local Authorities to be involved. This requests that local authorities associate themselves with the SDG and the Habitat III processes with new perspectives.
Mayor of Inhambane, Mozambique, said that there is ongoing cooperation between the city of Porto Alegre and the city of Inhambane on participatory budgeting and Cadaster, land registration, and urban planning. This has been very fruitful for the city of Inhambane. Mayor of Xai Xai insisted on the need to work together, guided by the common good of the community. Mayor of Belo Horizonte picked up the issue of gender as key in the local policies, including access of housing for women and local rent. There is need that a permanent network is established to exchange on these issues.
The Executive Bureau continued its proceedings in the afternoon with the adoption of key decisions concerning:
1. The adoption of the report of the Executive Bureau meeting in Haiku, China, on 23 to 26 November 2014.
2. The preparation of the second world assembly of local and regional governments towards Habitat III, and the outcomes of Habitat III Prepcom 2 in Nairobi in April 2015.
3. The participation of UCLG in the post 2015 Summit in New York, in September 2015 4. The participation of local governments in COP21 in Paris, in December2015
5. The reports on the risk prevention and disaster responsiveness in Sendai, South Korea; on the world water forum in Daegu-Gyeongbuk, South Korea; on the UCLG culture Summit in Bilbao, Spain; and the Guangzhou Award on UCLG community on urban innovation.
The Mayor of Porto Alegre presented a statement for the unity of Latin America networks of local authorities, and asked that UCLG recognizes the dialogue mechanism being set up and supports the Latin America local authorities unification process.
This reengagement of Latin America in the dynamic of unity is welcome by UCLG members.
FLACMA sent a letter recognizing the need for the unification process and its openness to work towards emphasizing of all local authorities, big and small, as well as with the associations. FLACMA is for dialogue to improve the unification process. The UCLG-A Secretary General commended the unique effort for the unification process they arrived at.
The representative of Chile asked that the UCLG-A secretary general be part of the working group put in place by the UCLG on the unification process of the Latin America local authorities. Mayor Fortunati finally reported on the last meeting of Metroplolis in Porto Alegre, and the next meeting of Metropolis will be held in 2017 in Montreal, Canada.
The meeting also included a series of side meetings scheduled on 12 June2015 among which, the meeting of the task force on local government disaster response; the committee on development on cooperation and City diplomacy, a briefing meeting on the consultations of the local and regional government’s agenda for the 21st century; the committee on peripheral cities; the committee on digital and knowledge-based cities; committee on social inclusion, participatory democracy and human rights; and the committee on urban strategic planning.
The meeting was concluded with the presentation of Bogotá, Colombia, the host City of the 5th congress of UCLG from 12 to 15 October 2016.