#CitiesAreListening Experience brings together all spheres of government and the international community to hold a dialogue on subnational urban policy and launch the new publication “Subnational Urban Policies: A Guide”

#CitiesAreListening Experience brings together all spheres of government and the international community to hold a dialogue on subnational urban policy and launch the new publication “Subnational Urban Policies: A Guide”.

The mandate that arises from the #CitiesAreListening experiences is to transcend from social distance to a world driven by communities. As a step to deliver this mandate, UN-Habitat, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), with the support of the Andalusian Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AACID), have developed a Sub-National Urban Policy: A Guide as an instrument to support urban management for governments and stakeholders.

The Guide expands the knowledge and engagement in the better understanding of these instruments, including what Subnational Urban Policies (SNUPs) are, what they are for, who benefits from them, and the problems they attempt to solve and a methodological guide to formulate, implement and develop Subnational Urban Policies.

Carmen Sánchez-Miranda, Head of the UN-Habitat Country Office Spain, introduced the dialogue framing the need to develop a territorial approach end urban-rural linkages as the key levers for achieving inclusive, safe cities, as we enter the decade of action. Subnational urban policies are, she argued, key to implementing this.

The dialogue was launched by Maimunah Mohd. Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, who commended the collaboration with UCLG in developing the guide. She addressed the importance for the New Urban Agenda (NUA) to define the relevance of National Urban Policies, and how they need to be accompanied by aligned actions at subnational levels. The Guide, she argued, would be an instrument to support urban policymakers.

The Guide is critical to expand knowledge and engagement with a better understanding of what subnational policies are, who benefits from them and the problems they intend to solve, as well as the importance of citizen participation, local democracy, and, ultimately, decentralizationMaimunah Mohd. Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat. She announced the Guide will soon count on an edition of practices that were shared by experts involved in the Guide development that took one year.

Emilia Saiz, Secretary-General of UCLG, addressed how the guide could allow to fill the gaps between the national and territorial approaches, and to understand urban development from a solidarity-driven perspective, a prerequisite to develop an ecosystem of cities and territories in which the urban-rural dichotomy is no longer a reality:

We feel that the Guide can be an important instrument on multilevel governance, and set a framework for self-evaluation and monitoring where we are. It can be a very useful tool for policy makers and planners to establish a different relation with their government. The Guide in this sense goes beyond arguing on the importance of the NUA, it helps to address enabling and hampering factors that lie in the governance systems”.

Mª Del Carmen Cardosa Zea, Deputy Counsellor of Equity, Social Policies, and Concilation of the Regional Government of Andalusia, Spain, highlighted the need to ground and territorialise the 2030 Agenda through urban and spatial planning policies. A multidimensional approach, she argued, needs to be compatible with the NUA if we are to achieve the goal of improving the quality of life of citizens and reaching the most vulnerable groups.

“Thank you for highlighting such an important tool to support governments in their policies. We hope that this Guide will be an easy tool, useful for all sister regions of the world, in this common goal of combating poverty and reducing inequalities.Mª Del Carmen Cardosa Zea, Deputy Counsellor of Equity, Social Policies, and Concilation, Andalusia, Spain.

The Guide was presented by María del Pilar Téllez, Metropolitan and Urban Policy Expert of UN-Habitat, who addressed the importance of Subnational Urban Policies as an instrument for territorial decentralization and highlighted how the Guide could expand knowledge and engagement in understanding SNUPs and how to benefit from them. “Cities and local governments are a key actor for the achievement of these sub-national urban policies, and for the achievement of global agendas. They are key providers of the goods and services that COVID-19 has made more visible“ she said.

In the panel discussion, moderated by Sara Hoeflich de Duque, Learning Director of UCLG, participants contributed on how the relationship between urban policies and the municipal level was unfolding. María del Carmen Compagni; General Director of Urbanism and Territorial Planning of the Regional Government of Andalusia, Spain, argued for the importance of the Guide to involve territorial governments in the achievement of the goals, especially in developing mechanisms to respond to the needs of communities.

M. Cemil Arslan, Secretary General of the Marmara Municipalities Union, Turkey, laid out the situation of the Marmara Region, a very dynamic and highly urbanised region of Turkey with a high influx of migrants and refugees over the years. He showcased the strategic framework the Association developed to ensure alignment with the national strategy  and with the NUA by coordinating and integrating policies from the local level.

Ilce Amarante, President of the Instituto Nacional de Gestão do Território, Cabo Verde, highlighted the recent history of territorial planning in Cabo Verde, and how the territory had recently started working to develop plans for Nationally Determined Contributions as well as the national planning of territorial ordinances. The increasing decentralization allow tailored planning taking into consideration the specificities of the territories, in her case, islands.

Guilherme Chalhoub, Director of Mobility of Cuenca showcased the mobility plans of Ecuador, laying the focus on the territorial dimension of Ecuador and how the city was looking for strategies to enhance urban active mobility.

Wrapping up the session, María de la Luz Ortega Carpio, Director of the AACID) highlighted the importance of the Guide for reaching the goals of the NUA by easing its incorporation into territorial planning; and Remy Sietchiping, Chief of the Policy, Legislation and Governance Section of UN-Habitat, lauded the Guide as an important piece for policy coherenceand further collaboration between national and subnational authorities.