Setting the Stage for the Next Frontier of the Municipal Movement

By |2019-11-07T09:31:46+01:00November 7th 2019|global urban debates, , , , |

In the spirit of equality, Durban will be the theatre of the largest gathering and most important triennial event for cities and local and regional governments across the world: the 2019 UCLG World Congress and World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. Responding to the current main challenges that are facing local or regional governments from around the world, the summit will put equality, and in particular, gender equality, at the heart of its ambitious programme.

Local and Regional Governments, Key to Carry Out the Global Agendas

A cornerstone for the achievement of the global agendas, local and regional governments have been carrying out basic services to their communities. They are tackling climate change, they are working on the ground to renew local democracy, they are endeavouring to build peaceful and resilient societies, and they are working to accelerate commitments and deliver the global development agendas on the ground, often without sufficient support.

Local and regional governments have been calling, and working, to secure a seat at the global table, but have also demonstrated that they have the capacity to listen, and to bring together all actors to provide solutions.

Our communities, our citizens, and the spheres of government closest to them can no longer be seen as mere recipients for cooperation, or as an afterthought in the achievement of the universal development agendas, and they are bringing this to the spotlight at the Summit.

Throughout the week, Durban will be the stage for inspiring local and regional leaders, who will contribute towards strengthening the conversation on equality, on local finance, on the role of local and regional governments in building peaceful societies

Defining the Priorities for the Future of Our Movement

The World Summit strives to be a step forward, to push the municipal movement into a new territory, to bring everyone to the table, and to co-create, between all stakeholders, the future for our communities. The civil society, the private sector, the international sphere, and national governments have all been invited to debate on equality, on local finance, on the agenda of intermediary cities, on housing, and migration… the themes that will be integral for the future of humanity will be addressed, and Durban will present to the world the renewed leadership that can make the futures thrive.

Tracks for the Future of Our Communities:

Bringing everyone to the table is not an aim in itself for the municipal movement. To create a liveable future for our communities, we need to ensure that this gathering produces results. This is why the four tracks of the UCLG Congress are designed to foster dialogue among everyone, to guide debates and exchanges and to produce concrete outcomes that will feed the municipal movement and further our agenda for the years to come.

The Assembly Track, driven by local and regional leaders, will bring both thematic and continental priorities to the table, and allow for exchanges based around position papers that were developed gearing up to the Congress. The outcomes of the sessions will be presented both to the leadership of UCLG as well as to the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments.

Our partners from the civil society will take the lead of the Town Hall Track, contributing to define our global policies. The Global Platform for the Right to the City, Habitat International Coalition, World Enabled, the Huairou Commission, the General Assembly of Partners and Cities Alliance, among others, will deliberate on key policy areas such as Inclusive and Accessible Cities, Gender Equality, the Right to the City, Informalities, and many more, and will also inform the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments.

The Local4Action Track will provide different formats of sessions to accommodate the experiences of participants in the framework of five policy areas related to the policy priorities of our World Organization.

The Statutory Track is limited to UCLG Members only, and comprises the meetings of the governing bodies that shape the policies and work plan of the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments. This includes leading the charge for the renewal of the UCLG Leadership.

Our Congress will also host Special Sessions on many of the more pressing issues of our time for the municipal movement, such as Gender Equality, Transparency, Local Finance, Housing and Migration, with the aim of producing a manifesto that envisions the future of these topics.

Equality at the Core of the Gathering

The municipal movement is an equality-driven movement. To this end, we are convinced that this equality will only be achieved if women are brought to the table in all aspects of the decision-making process.

Gender equality is a right in a world where women represent more than half of the population; it is also a sine qua non for development when poverty concerns more women than men, according to statistics. We need to focus more on women’s visibility in local governments and we need to foster innovative approaches in doing politics and new models in decision-making processes. Only thus can we ensure fair development and a more democratic society.

Gender equality policies have emerged in response to women’s movement against the oppression of women and for women’s right. Importantly, men also benefit from gender equality strategies, as they too face gender-specific issues such as lower life expectancy, bad health, lower education levels, less childcare opportunities and rigid gender norms.

We – local and regional governments – are at the closest level of government to our communities, and thus are crucial actors in the implementation of relevant policies for ensuring gender equality. The same is true for setting up of strategic partnerships for the achievement of the main critical goals foreseen by the 2030 Agenda, in particular SDG 5 on gender equality.

Our Congress will reflect this, with a Special Session on “The Future of Equality: beyond Beijing +25”, which will define the messages that the global network needs to bring to the global table in March 2020 on the occasion of the 64th session of the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW64) of the United Nations, which will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Emilia Sáiz

Emilia Sáiz is Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). She has worked with the international movement of local and regional governments in different capacities since 1997, leading programmes and initiatives on institutional capacity building, the participation of women in local decision-making and decentralized cooperation. She played a critical role in setting up the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, and has followed and represented local and regional governments in iconic international processes such as the Rio and Beijing +20 as well as the Climate Agreement, the SDGs and Habitat III and facilitated the contributions from local constituencies to the United Nations process.
Emilia Sáiz