From 8-12 May a delegation of local leaders and networks of the Global Taskforce participated in the 26th Session of the Governing Council of UN Habitat, the first since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in Quito in October 2016.
The role of local and regional governments in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda
The week kicked off on 8 May with a side event organized by the Global Taskforce and UCLG on the role of local and regional governments in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda in connection with the global agenda 2030.
Local and regional governments worldwide and their networks are committed to ensuring the implementation of the SDGs, Climate Change and the New Urban Agenda. Local and regional governments are already taking action to adapt these agendas to local and regional levels of governance, the process of ‘localizing’ the global agendas.
The side event highlighted the social function of housing and its role in making the Right to the City a reality and shifting from housing from being seen as commodity to a human right.
The event celebrated the important partnerships developed with the framework of Habitat III process, including the establishment of General Assembly of Partners (GAP). Participants stressed the need to team up to make the connection between the SDGs and habitat III a reality.
The important participation of the GAP constituencies and their valuable contributions to the debate proved the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships. Participants highlighted the necessity of civil society’s trust and support to show local governments the way and hold them accountable.
UN Habitat reaffirmed its support for the action of local and regional governments, which will be essential to ensure that urban and territorial development are placed at the heart of the political agenda.
UN Habitat Governing Council High-Level Segment
On 9 May, Mayor of Durban, Zandile Gumede, spoke in the High-Level Segment of the UN Habitat Governing Council on behalf of UCLG and the Global Taskforce.
In her intervention, Gumede emphasized that the New Urban Agenda should act as the framework for the achievement of the global goals, from the SDGs to the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework. This will require decentralization according to subsidiarity and a multi-level governance approach.
Gumede argued that “local and regional governments are on the front line of guaranteeing the right to adequate housing.” And defended housing as a right and a social good within the framework of a Right to the City approach.
She closed with a call for the framework for implementation of the NUA to go beyond a technical planning guide and address the social aspects of the NUA. It should, she said, consider local and regional governments as more than simple implementers of national priorities but, rather, as partners responsible for integrated territorial development.
Dialogue between governments, local authorities and other partners
On 10 May, a dialogue was held between Member States, local authorities and other partners, with a view to increasing the participation in and contribution by local authorities and other partners to the work of the Governing Council.
Speaking on behalf of UCLG and the Global Taskforce, Deputy Secretary General of UCLG, Emilia Sáiz, recalled the central role of local and regional governments in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. She acknowledged the ongoing support from UN Habitat in developing and strengthening local and regional government organizations and the development and implementation of local action to achieve the global agendas.
Sáiz praised the successful partnerships during the Habitat III process, which had a powerful impact on the outcomes of the negotiations. She called for their continuation and strengthening in the implementation phase of all the recently adopted global agendas, stressing their interdependence. She argued that it would be particularly necessary to support the convening work of the General Assembly of Partners (GAP) to bring together all the constituencies of civil society and beyond (local governments) and the powerful mobilization of local and regional government representatives as part of the Global Taskforce.
Statement by Zandile Gumede on behalf of local and regional governments