27 April - Convening of the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments at the High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the New Urban Agenda
On April 27, the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments (WALRG), convened by the Global Taskforce met in New York with a diverse and representative delegation. Representatives of national governments and civil society as well as UN organizations joined the deliberations aiming at presenting the priorities of the constituency.
The World Assembly was held on the occasion of the High-level Meeting on the review and follow up of the New Urban Agenda. The opening counted with the addresses of the President of the UN General Assembly H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, Collen Vixen Kelapile, ECOSOC President, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director, Carlos Martinez, UCLG Special Envoy for the New Urban Agenda, Atishi Marlena, Vice-President of UNACLA, Member of Legislative Assembly, National Capital Territory of Delhi, India; Vice-President of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, Santiago Guarderas Izquierdo, Mayor of Quito and city host of the Habitat III conference, Ambassador Cristian Espinosa Cañizares, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations and Raquel Sánchez, Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Spain.
The World Assembly is officially recognized in the Quito Outcome Document by the United Nations General Assembly in acknowledgment of the role that local and regional governments and communities play in sustainable urban development and in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
During the meeting on April 27, the WALRG focused on stressing the importance of deepening the debate on the recognition of local and regional governments as political actors contributing to build a long-lasting partnership to localize the universal development agendas.
The Assembly was structured around three key axes: 1) local public service provision and the right to the city, 2) equality, finance, and green deals and 3) multilevel governance, intermediary cities and renewed planning models. It included the participation not only of local and regional governments but also of representatives of national governments and other stakeholders.
H.E. Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly highlighted that cities and mayors must be empowered to fulfil their role as ‘first responders’ to salvage the SDGs in the face of multiple ongoing crises shaking our world: socio-politically, economically, and environmentally.
In turn, H.E. Collen Vixen Kelapile, ECOSOC President highlighted the importance of institutionalizing local-national partnerships.
UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif stressed that the New Urban Agenda is the cornerstone to accelerate all development agendas, and an important opportunity for the constituency of local and regional governments to be instrumental in its implementation.
In his opening remarks, Carlos Martinez, Mayor of Soria, UCLG governing President and UCLG Special Envoy for the New Urban Agenda described the New Urban Agenda as the first document of its kind that enshrined the right to the city, which puts people at the center and provided the United Nations with an ambitious agenda to strengthen territories by understanding urbanization as a phenomenon beyond cities. He thus called on national governments to support its implementation towards jointly achieving the global agendas.
The Mayor of Quito, Santiago Guarderas Izquierdo, reaffirmed the commitment of the constituency of local and regional governments to achieving the SDGs and depicted the NUA as an accelerator of the 2030 Agenda and the building blocks for realizing the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework and the Global Compacts for Migrants and Refugees, leading to a new model of development anchored in social, economic, environmental and territorial sustainability.
Atishi Marlena, Vice-President of the United Nations Advisory Body of Local Authorities (UNACLA), Member of Legislative Assembly, National Capital Territory of Delhi, and India Vice-President of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, stressed 2022 as a game-changer to elevate the profile of the New Urban Agenda and celebrated the creation of the Advisory Group of Local and Regional Governments of the United Nations Secretary General as part of the efforts to achieve Our Common Agenda.
Ambassador Cristian Espinosa Cañizares, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations, recalled the privilege for Ecuador and for the city of Quito, to receive mayors and governors in Quito in 2016, as well as to welcome them again in New York to review and identify challenges for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
Raquel Sánchez, Spain’s Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, recognized the importance of local and regional governments, due to the proximity to their communities, to put care at the center of public policies. She further noted the need to develop suitable multilevel governance for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
A discussion followed on the priorities by local and regional governments for the New Urban Agenda, notably regarding local public service provision and the right to the city, including housing, health, digitalization, and multilevel governance.
The remarks were delivered by Uğur İbrahim Altay, Mayor of Konya and UCLG Co-President who highlighted the importance of addressing inequalities; Carolina Cosse, Mayor of Montevideo, UCLG Vice-President for Latin America, took a special focus on women and feminist leadership in decision-making positions at all levels of governance. Anibal Gaviria, Governor of Antioquia, shared how important communicating the New Urban Agenda will be to mobilize our communities and regions alike. Mayor of Des Moines, Frank Cownie, pointed out it is at the local level, where great efforts can be made to achieve the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Christine Mba Ndutume, Mayor of Libreville, stressed the important role of the Global Taskforce in raising the voices of local governments to the global decision-making tables. In turn Franklin Galarza, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ecuador spoke on the need to advance SDG 11 providing decent housing; Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade County highlighted the critical role cities play in leading on climate action; Navid Hanif, Director of Financing for Sustainable Development Office, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs who emphasized the importance local and regional governments in the achievement of the global agendas and the vital role financing at the local level plays in that regard. The discussion was facilitated by UCLG Africa Secretary General Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi.
Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener and UCLG Treasurer, highlighted the importance of the principles and policies that are included in the New Urban Agenda as accelerators for the SDGs, and hence the need to bolster the implementation of the NUA as a means to achieve the 2030 Agenda. He further commended to leverage linkages between the New Urban Agenda, multilevel governance, and service delivery on healthcare, access to housing, or technology, among others.
The second axis of the World Assembly was dedicated to assess the challenges lying ahead to accelerate effective action, paying particular attention to the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. The session included recommendations by local and regional representatives on policy areas such as social inclusion and financing, equality, migration, green deals, right to the city, and finance gaps.
The session was introduced by Kale Roberts, Senior Program Officer at ICLEI USA. The remarks were delivered by, inter alia, Claudia López, Mayor of Bogotá Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala, María Galindo, from the Regional Government of Catalonia, Luis Donaldo Colosio, Mayor of Monterrey, Fatimetou Abdel Malick, President of Nouakchott, Kim Myung Soo, Vice Mayor of Daejeon Metropolitan City, Mbarka Bouaida, President of the Guelmim Oued Noun Region and President of the Association of Regions in Morocco, and Macoura Dao, President of REFELA and Mayor of Foumbol. Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction also took part.
The last session of the World Assembly, moderated by Shipra Narang Suri from UN-Habitat, addressed the importance of the New Urban Agenda as the cornerstone towards the achievement of one universal development agenda. It brought about recommendations on multilevel governance, new service delivery, the role of intermediary cities, and renewed planning models and infrastructures. The session counted with the interventions of Fernando Gray, Mayor of Esteban Echeverria, Mahadi Che Ngah, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen, Ambassador Bob Rae, Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, Pablo Jurado, President of CONGOPE, Paula Vargas, Mayor of San Jose, Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul, and Valérie Dumontet, Vice-President of Aude.
28 April - The High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda convened by the President of the UN General Assembly
The High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda convened by the President of the UN General Assembly, H. E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, held on April 28, gathered Member States, local and regional governments and stakeholders to discuss the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. It focused on four key areas of action that have been identified in the reports on progress submitted by all actors as well as in the preparation of the Quadrennial report of the Secretary-General on the New Urban Agenda.
Local and regional governments that took part in the High-Level meeting did so demonstrating the interconnection between the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the PGA’s 5 Rays of Hope through the delivery of local actions, and reiterating the position of our constituency as partners to achieve the goals. The representatives nominated by the constituency took the floor at the formal session in the General Assembly Hall. A significant moment for our constituency which marks the beginning of a renewed structural relation with the UN System.
Carlos Martínez, Mayor of Soria, UCLG Governing President and UCLG Special Envoy for the New Urban Agenda: “We are an indispensable ally in achieving our common agenda. The realities and aspirations of our communities we represent must be the foundation of the summit for the future. We stand in front of you as a constituency that is organized, committed and ready to cooperate."
Claudia Lopez, Mayor of Bogotá, Vice President of C40 for Latin America and incoming President of Metropolis “I believe that we should be part of the UN General Assembly to demand and to ensure that the United Nations guarantees the main purpose for which it was created”.
Atishi Marlena, Vice-President of UNACLA, Member of Legislative Assembly, National Capital Territory of Delhi, India; Vice-President of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability highlighted that Delhi has shown that with an honest government, with well designed policies & effective implementation every citizen can get the best public services
Fatimetou Abdel Malick, Nouakchott President, in representation of regional governments recalled our common duty, as an organized constituency of local & regional governments to embrace the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator of the SDGs for sustainable cities for all
Representatives of the local and regional government constituency also participated in the debate of the UNGA through UN Regional Economic Commissions including the Mayor of Mayor of Esteban Echeverria, Fernando Gray, Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, Mahadi Che Ngah, and the Mayor of Geneva, Sami Kanaan. This segment included interventions of how local and regional governments can contribute to the achievement of the New Urban Agenda and other global agendas through their regional experiences.
The engagement of the constituency of local and regional governments during the World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments and the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda convened by the President of the UN General Assembly was an important milestone to place the New Urban Agenda as an indispensable powerhouse not only for the achievement of Our Common Agenda, but towards bringing about the next generation of multilateralism based on multilevel governance and effective decentralization, with the ultimate goal of transitioning from an international system to one driven by our communities.