Local and regional governments participation at the High-Level Meeting on UN-Habitat

Photo credits: UCLG/Joel Shaekoski 

A delegation of local and regional leaders from UCLG and the Global Taskforce participated and delivered their messages to the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the New Urban Agenda and UN-Habitat from 4 to 6 September 2017.

The Global Taskforce delegation to New York included UCLG President, Parks Tau, Mayor of Durban and Vice-Chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Steering Committee, Zandile Gumede; Mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Bangangté and President of the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa, Célestine Ketcha Courtés, President of the Botswana Association of Local Authorities and CLGF Chair, Mpho Moruakgomo, Mayor of Penang Island and Chair of the UCLG ASPAC Standing Committee of Women in Local Government, Maimuna Hohd Sharif, Mayor of Soria and Vice-President of CEMR and UCLG, Carlos Martínez Mínguez, and Mayor of Kitcherner and UCLG Treasurer, Berry Vrbanovic.


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Our agenda at the High Level Meeting

► Day 1  | Monday 4 September | Meeting of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments
► Day 2  | Tuesday 5 September | Presentation of the Report by the Independent Panel and stakeholder consultation
► Day 3  | Wednesday 6 September | Implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs


Local and regional governments: a seat at the global table

On 21 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, the adoption of the New Urban Agenda established the roadmap for sustainable urban development for the coming years. The High-Level Meeting on the New Urban Agenda and UN-Habitat aims at discussing the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs and the positioning of UN-Habitat. This is an important space for our constituency since local and regional governments are on the frontline of implementing the major global agendas.

On 1 August 2017 the High Level Independent Panel to Asses and Enhance the Effectiveness of UN-Habitat presented its report to the UN Secretary General António Guterres. The High Level Independent Panel, co-chaired by UCLG President Parks Tau and Mayor of Paris and UCLG Co-President Anne Hidalgo, was appointed to conduct an objective and independent review of the effectiveness and efficiency of UN-Habitat.

In its report, the Panel recommends to take a multi-governance approach calling the UN to acknowledge the governmental role of local and regional governments and their contributions to the international policy making process.

The report also calls for the creation of UN Urban, a new body to mainstream urbanization across the UN system.

In a statement to the Global Taskforce, Panel Co-chair and UCLG President, Parks Tau said the Panel was convinced that “with adequate resources, tools and full ownership of the Member States, as well as developed partnerships, UN-Habitat continues to have the potential to play a significant role... The recommendations to enhance its governance should enable it to play a significant role as a focal point for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.”


HIGHLIGHTS FOR OUR CONSTITUENCY: Local Leaders debate the future of UN-Habitat at the High Level Meeting

Monday 4 September | Meeting of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments 

On Monday, 4 September, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments met in New York to adopt a joint statement on the report of the Independent Panel to Assess, Enhance Effectiveness of UN-Habitat after the Adoption of the New Urban Agenda. 
 
UCLG President and Co-Chair of the Independent Panel, Parks Tau, highlighted the achievement of the constituency in bringing urbanization to the centre of international development dates over recent years, an achievement that is reflected in the proposal to set up UN Urban. He also expressed his hope that the report’s acknowledgement that the UN has “failed to recognized the fundamental role of local and regional governments in development" will contribute to the Global Taskforce’s ongoing efforts to secure the constituency a seat at the global table in the UN System. 
The UN has failed to recognized the fundamental role of local and regional governments in development" Parks Tau, UCLG President and Co-Chair of the Independent Panel

The statement welcomes the proposal to set up UN Urban and supports the call for the issue of urbanization to be mainstreamed across the UN. In this regard, the statement highlights the need for an integrated territorial approach to urbanization to bridge the artificial urban-rural divide. It also reiterates the Global Taskforce’s longstanding call for the governmental status of local and regional governments to be recognized with anenhanced status in the UN system. Finally, it calls on the 2nd Committee of the UN General Assembly to set out a clear, transparent roadmap to complete the third phase of the follow-up and review process as defined in paragraph 173 of the New Urban Agenda.

Tuesday 5 September | Presentation of the Report by the Independent Panel and stakeholder consultation

Local leaders participated in two sessions on the morning of 5 September to review the positioning of UN-Habitat in the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda. 

The proud history of urban work at the UN must be harnessed at this vital time, and the UN must be seen again as the lead convener and catalyzer for partners, funders, private sector and civil society organizations to scale up their work in urban areas,” said Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in her opening remarks to the two-day event. 

Peter Thomson, General Assembly President stressed the importance of capitalizing on the enormous social and economic opportunities provided by mass urbanization to lift people out of poverty, drive inclusive economic growth, promote equality, strengthen community resilience, and of course, effectively combat climate change.

To do so we have to increase global awareness of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, particularly among policy makers and the global public,” Peter Thomson, General Assembly President 

Speaking both as Co-Chair of the Panel, and as a local leader, Mpho Parks Tau, President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the South African Local Governments Association (SALGA), brought to the Panel his strong conviction of the need to harness the New Urban Agenda as a framework for sustainable development across the world.  

We call for a ‘conceptual shift’ towards a territorial approach to development. Despite its name, ‘UN Urban’ must challenge the artificial urban-rural dichotomy and work to mainstream a territorial approach to development across the UN. We call for ‘the urban’ to be understood in its broadest sense: encompassing metropolitan areas, intermediary cities, peri-urban areas, and the rural surroundings with which they are inter-dependent” . Parks Tau, Co-chair of the High Level Independent Panel and UCLG President

Rosario Robles, Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development of Mexico and Co-Chair of the Independent Assessment Panel of UN-Habitat added, “by its very nature the New Urban Agenda is a territorial agenda, an agenda that deals with towns, cities and their rural surroundings. It therefore cannot be achieved without the active commitment and participation of local and regional governments who are in direct contract with territories.” 

Later in the day, two Interactive Panels were dedicated to the repositioning of UN-Habitat in the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat’s mandate and partnership, and its governance and financial capacity, respectively.

These panels provided an opportunity for Member States and stakeholders to engage in an interactive manner with the High Level Panel (HLP), where panelists took the opportunity to highlight their key findings and recommendations, explain the rationale of the report and provide responses.   

Our constituency reported to the UN System that the Report by the HLP should be seen as the start of an in-depth discussion on the role that the territorial agenda needs to play in the overall development agenda and in the organization of the UN System.  

Our delegation called for a clear process to follow up on implementation, and provided a clear signal that local and regional governments are ready to participate in the follow-up process. Further, the delegation actively proposed possibilities for partnerships with civil society and Member States.​ 

An important moment for our constituency was the afternoon session “Stakeholder Consultation on the Report of the High Level Independent Panel to Assess and Enhance Effectiveness of UN-Habitat”, where our constituency recalled the importance of global partnerships for the implementation of the major development agendas.

The Global Taskforce (GTF) and General Assembly of Partners (GAP) organized an open consultation to involve their respective delegations in the Hearings on the Report of the High Level Independent Panel to Assess UN-Habitat, convened by the President of the General Assembly.

 

Speakers included members of the GTF’s delegation of more than 40 mayors and high-level leaders of local and subnational authorities, the GAP’s delegation of representatives from its 16 Partner Constituent Groups, and other concerned parties. The outcomes of this meeting were a demonstration of support for the report, bound by a series of questions as yet unanswered in the document.

Wednesday 6 September | Implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs

Local leaders participated in interactive panels on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs, with a focus on the role played by the UN and multi-stakeholder collaboration, respectively. 

The delegation closed with a meeting with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, at which local leaders highlighted the contributions of local and regional governments to the overall UN sustainable development agenda and expressed their full support in the achievement of the global agendas.

The UN Secretary General appreciated the support of the local and regional governments constituency and expressed his will to explore new ways of collaboration between LRG constituency and the United Nations to achieve the successful implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

  • Read the Global Taskforce news related 
  • Check out the intervention of Carlos Martínez, Mayor of Soria, Vice-President of UCLG and CEMR 
  • Check out the intervention of Manuela Carmena, Mayor of Madrid 

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