Representatives of the local and subnational government constituency gathered in Durban, South Africa from 11-15 November, 2019 at the triennial congress of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) to define the common global agenda for cities and regions in the coming years and co-develop strong democratic and decentralized inputs for upcoming international processes.
On the final day of the Congress, the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments convened to set priorities and a path forward for the next decade of urban action on sustainability. The official Outcome Document of the Durban Formal Session declares that the constituency is ready to “stand together as one before the international community, while celebrating our unique and complementary contributions to shaping our sustainable and resilient future.”
The document “welcomes and confirms the role of GTF founding member ICLEI to use and resource its focal point status within the three Rio Conventions (Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification) and related global processes, and in doing so, provide the GTF and World Assembly with appropriate and well-coordinated entry points.”
Speaking on behalf of ICLEI at the World Assembly, Manuel de Araújo, Mayor of Quelimane and member of ICLEI’s Global Executive Committee, pointed out that “local governments are on the front lines of the global challenges we are currently facing. ICLEI plays a crucial role in capacitating cities to better respond to these challenges.”
The World Assembly invited other members of the GTF to take and resource similar roles in areas such as migration, culture, gender, safe and inclusive cities, housing and other areas and saw the co-development of the following thematic priorities:
- To ensure all urban development is based on a low emissions pathway with the aim of achieving climate neutrality in the LRG’s own infrastructure and operations before 2050.
- To make resilience a core part of the LRG’s planning strategies and prepare for new risks and impacts, taking into account the rights and needs of vulnerable sections of the society.
- To prioritize nature-based solutions and the mainstreaming of nature in cities and regions, recognizing the value of nature as fundamental to our collective economic and social wellbeing, within the context of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and Earth’s planetary boundaries.
- To pursue secure and safe access to food, water, energy, sanitation for all, culture and education as well as clean air and soil.
- To enable the creation and sustainability of people centered, safe and culturally vibrant communities.
The congress focused on the theme of leaving no one, no place, and no partner behind as delegates showcased the progress made on localizing global agendas, including Agenda 2030, and its associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Other highlights of the congress included the interactive Local4Action Hub, which was the center of activity, and the strong voice of female leadership in emphasizing the critical need for gender mainstreaming across sectors. ICLEI also convened two sessions on biodiversity and nature-based solutions.
Under the framework of the New Urban Agenda, the Congress also highlighted the need for strong partnerships and collective action, both within the constituency and alongside key partners, such as civil society, in order to move beyond just the amplification of voices and into the space of joint policymaking in the decade ahead. As stated in the Durban Political Declaration released by UCLG at the Congress “transformational change will be local, or will simply not be”.
Outgoing UCLG President, Honourable Mr. Parks Tao, Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in South Africa passed the baton to Dr. Mohamed Boudra, Mayor of Al Hoceima, Morocco and chairman of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC), the newly elected President of UCLG.
The UCLG team, under the leadership of Ms. Emilia Saiz, Secretary General; the local host municipality, eThekwini, under the leadership of Honourable Mayor Mr. Mxolisi Kaunda; and the local supporting partners such as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), collaborated effortlessly to make the Congress a success.