Beijing+25, Gender Equality at the forefront of our agenda
“Equality is critical but as an organised constituency, the role we play in promoting equality is organised around the notion of political participation, the role of women in local decision-making. That is our added value” Emilia Saiz, Secretary General of UCLG.
The first roundtable of the day was dedicated to the role of our constituency at the 64th Commission on the Status of Women, and Beijing +25. A delegation of 60 representatives of local and regional governments, among them, mostly women. The delegation will also reveal the challenges that local elected women are facing, since the number of women elected mayors and vice mayors is significantly less than the number of councilors, and this is an issue that our constituency has been working to bring to the spotlight and erase through joint work and past campaigns such as “Be Counted”.
“At global level, in regards to advocacy with UN, and at the national level we need to ensure the work being done is recognised. They need to work with local governments, to recognise them as important partners. They need to build further partnerships with other constituencies” Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Senior Programmes and Strategies Administrator, Huairou Commission
“We need to ensure gender equality; women’s participation needs to be at the heart of all discussions. One of the issues we see in Canada and others is harassment, which is something elected women see on a daily basis”. Elena Pierce, Governance, Policy and Networks Advisor, FCM
Our delegation will present a statement to highlight the setbacks for gender equality in the world an exactly how local and regional governments are working against pushbacks and conservative movement that aim to bring down the gender equality agenda. Our agenda during the week will include a Local and Regional Governments Day, will aim to distinguish itself as the “Frontline of equality”, and strengthen gender equality at the UN level. Side events organised by member networks such as CEMR, and other stakeholders such as the Swedish Government, will aim to strengthen the conversation around gender equality and showcase how our constituency feels 25 years after the Beijing Declaration. The CSW is just starting point, and participants highlighted the need to follow-up with forums dealing with civil society relations.
“The different activities that UCLG and sections are planning during the CSW are an opportunity for us to raise importance of local governments as agents for change, promoting transformations around the world” Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala, Vice-President of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), Incoming Vice-President of UCLG for Europe
High-Level Political Forum 2020
The High-Level Political Forum taking place in 2020 has, for the first time since the 2030 Agenda was adopted, shifted its focus from individual SDGs. The discussions throughout the session aimed at framing the approach this year, how to frame, as well, our local and regional governments forum.
UN-DESA, invited to the session, highlighted 3 special areas of focus for the HLPF: the so-called “decade of action”; raising ambitions to achieve the goals; and ensuring “supercharged” actions, linking the forum with the Local4Action Hubs, and scaling the hubs up to share learning for the achievement of the goals.
“Under the theme of Accelerating Action, one of these cross-cutting sections is on local action. What this means is we will address empowering and supporting cities, addressing people-centred services.” Riina Jussila, Sustainable Development Officer, Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations Secretariat
Greg Munro, Secretary General of CLGF, highlighted that in previous HLPF we have been “preaching to the converted”, in regards to multilateralism, but we have been unable to reach out to national governments who do not consider the local and regional governments’ constituency as partners.
“If local governments aren’t considered the deliverers of the SDGs, we will not achieve them. The SDGs, if we want to accelerate delivery, we need proper action-oriented measures with LGs, not as an add-on.” Greg Munro, Secretary General of CLGF.
Discussions during the session also highlighted the role of local and regional leaders as global leaders, as the sphere of political leadership that could bring about real change, and called on the networks themselves to be innovative in supporting mayors, our political leadership that will be able bring about the changes we want to see in our societies. Participants in the session also took the stage to address some of the key themes that could be addressed by our constituency at the HLPF.
Migration was on the GTF Agenda for the first time
“Migration and displacement are two of the greatest challenges that we are facing. Increased migration is causing turbulent situations in Europe and America. In Asia it is due to social unrest. Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, all in MEWA, host about 10.5 migrants and refugee seekers.” Mehmet Duman, Secretary General of UCLG-MEWA
UCLG has been working to change the narrative on migration, providing the local and regional perspectives to the UN System through the drafting of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. UCLG has been advocating for the perspectives of the constituency, and strive for local and regional governments to play a larger role in the global compact. UCLG has also led the Mediterranean City-to-City Migration Project, to improve the governance of migration at local level in Europe and the Mediterranean.
The goal now is to ensure that this renewed narrative around migration reaches the Global Taskforce. UCLG invited other members of the Global Taskforce to organize their joint voices around the matter, to ensure it is present in the agenda of our constituency. Members of the GTF agreed to join the work on migration in order to ensure that the experience of the entire constituency is harnessed for advancing local and regional governments’ agenda on migration.
UN75- Our Constituency is joining the conversation.
The UN75 campaign was introduced by a video of Under Secretary of the UN Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond, who highlighted UN75 as an “Unprecedented global consultation process”, challenging mayors to envision the future they want for the world, the future of the multilateral system, and the future of the United Nations, as well as their role in delivering this future.
“Your voices in this process are critical. We count on you to spread the word to your constituencies, your cities, your citizens. We want to hear from you and the people you represent.” Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond, Undersecretary General of the UN
The member networks from the GTF agreed on how important it is for us to acknowledge the progress of the international system, and how it is precisely local and regional governments who are now the most vocal advocates of the system, and those who work stronger to have a voice in it and to transform governance to best suit communities.
The UCLG UBUNTU advisor and Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements Aromar Revi, and Billy Cobbett, Director of Cities Alliance were the ones in charge to lead the conversation on UN75 for the session. Aromar Revi introduced the session, arguing for the need to introduce the megatrends that affect local and regional governments into the agenda of the future of multilateralism. Urbanization, conflict, inequalities… all those are critical for our constituency. He called for our constituency to “capture the narrative” through attractive messages and powerful voices, and for the need to enhance the resources available to local and regional governments to achieve the goals.
“If local governments had 2% of global tax, what could we do with it? We need resources. We are running out of time, not just us but the UN. We need to mobilise, to put these things out.” Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), UCLG UBUNTU Advisor
Billy Cobbett highlighted the advancements that the local and regional governments’ constituency has made in regards to the language used, and the symbolism that our approach towards the UN is now taken. As he stated, we are no longer just about “urban development”, but we rather brought the conflict to the UN, by “speaking on behalf of communities that have been typically excluded”, which he considered to be what makes our movement a powerful tool for transformation.
Mohamed Boudra, President of UCLG and Mayor of Al-Hoceima, urged our constituency to go one step beyond, to work for an observer role art the UN in order to be more suited to the future that is coming. He highlighted the opportunity of the Retreat to rethink how to streamline our participation in the UN, enabling our constituency to better reflect the messages from our citizens, and enable true transformation from the bottom-up. The UN75 consultation will be an opportunity to let the world know that local and regional leaders are ready to join the conversation, and that our contribution to the future of multilateralism is indispensable.
“Tomorrow the world will be a world of cities. We talk about climate, conflict, migration, equality, food sovereignty. I believe we are the best allies of the United Nations and the United Nations is our best ally. The problems are global and the solutions are local. Borders do not work the way they used to.” Mohamed Boudra, Mayor of Al-Hoceima, president of UCLG
The Climate Agenda - COP26 and COP15 on Biodiversity key to the GTF work
The climate agenda was reviewed by members and partners of the Global Taskforce during the gathering. The occasion of the COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming was highlighted as one of the key events for the year, since it could provide a turning point on biodiversity, through the adoption of a framework akin to the Paris Agreement for biodiversity.
Kobie Brand, Executive Director of ICLEI Africa, argued that “climate change and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin”. She highlighted that 2020 COP on Biodiversity is set to be a “turning point”, that the targets set for ourselves ten years ago are not on track, and that participation from our networks is essential for the ambition to raise at COP 15.
Iñaki Susaeta, Secretary General of Regions4 addressed the work done by the regional network, including three reports for the Convention on Biodiversity, for the post-2020 negotiations. He argued for the need to share experiences in the field of biodiversity, to coordinate, as a Network, biodiversity within the global taskforce in order to succeed in raising ambitions. He further made a call to play a stronger role as focal point on behalf of the constituency on the biodiversity file together with ICLEI.
COP25 ended with the commitment to “Raise Ambitions” for the next COP, in Glasgow. Serafín Pazos-Vidal, representing the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, highlighted that the ambition for COP26 was to ensure a local government dimension that is not just numerous, but visible and that local and regional governments are seen strongly. He argued for the need to have at least 100 mayors, to ensure a strong delegation of local governments contributing to the COP to go beyond what was done in Madrid.
Amanda Eichel, Executive Director of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, brought to the table the deliverables that local and regional governments would bring to the table at COP: Engaging with UNDP to increase the ambitions of NDs, and developing a draft LDC, and to use the meetings in Rome and before COP 26 to bring together mayors to raise climate ambitions.
Communications campaigns, enhancing research and innovation investments, and advocating for a clearer link between science and policy were also seen by the GCoM as essential to secure that ambitions were raised, and to demonstrate what is possible if all spheres of government work together.
Yunus Arikan, from ICLEI, who was not able to attend the meeting, had shared his message in advance. He claimed it is essential to gain space in Glasgow. He commended the Scottish government’s approach to including local and regional governments in the blue pavilion of the COP, and called for ensuring that the ICLEI roadmap reaches and is agreed upon by the entire Network.
The Regional Governments approach to the SDGs.
The final part of the Global Taskforce session was dedicated to a presentation on the Strasbourg High-Level Event, aiming to discuss the role of regions in the achievement of the global goals.
Mathieu Mori, Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions, introduced the event set to take place in the European Parliament. He stressed the need to make the role of the territories in the achievement of the global agendas more visible. He invited participants to attend the meeting, co-organised by AER, Regions4, and UCLG, commending the participants from all networks that were a part of the event.
He joined the representative of Regions4 in highlighting the ambition that regional governments work if more visible within the Global Taskforce as well as in the global development agendas.
The Annual Meeting was continued with a discussion on the future of governance and how local governments could address inequalities. A reception hosted by the Moroccan authorities with the attendance of the Minister of Local Governments and that of Foreign Relations and cooperation as well as the Walid of Tetouan and the Mayor of Tangier closed the day for all participants.