EU-UCLG: a strategic partnership for development

UE-CGLU: un Partenariat stratégique pour le développement

On 28 January, the European Commission and UCLG signed the first partnership agreement on development cooperation. The networks of local and regional governments who signed this political agreement commit to take actions based on common values and objectives in order to tackle global poverty and inequality, and to promote democracy and sustainable development.

This new partnership represents an important step forward for the involvement of local and regional governments in development policies. It acknowledges the role of municipalities, towns, cities and regions as decision-makers in defining policies and contributing to addressing global challenges, as well implementing shared global agendas at local level. 

The strategic agreement was signed in the presence of Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, and Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul and President of UCLG, as well as political representatives from the other signatory organisations: Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and President of the International Association of Francophone Mayors; Lazaros Saviddes, Mayor of Strovolos (Cyprus) and Board Member of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum; Khalifa Sall, Mayor of Dakar and President of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa; and Annemarie Jorritsma, Mayor of Almere (Netherlands) and President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions,  representing PLATFORMA. As declared in the press conference that took place following the signing of the agreement, both institutions, the European Commission and UCLG, commit to strengthening the global network and contributing to its sustainability through this partnership.

Commissioner Mimica commented: “Our new commitment provides great potential to strengthen the levels of government closest to the citizens […]. I will partner with you to create bottom-up processes that highlight the role of the definition and implementation of national and regional policies.” 

Kadir Topbaş said: “The Strategic Partnership that we are about to sign today is a great step forward. It recognises not only the key role that local governments play and will need to play in development, but also acknowledges the efforts made by local governments themselves to get organised. The organisations that are here today have a long history and represent the initiative of the local government community itself. Supporting these structures is a strong sign of recognition of the work of cities internationally.”

Anne Hidalgo also highlighted that: “City diplomacy is becoming essential to share solutions, and to define strategies to create solidarity and understanding.”

UCLG Africa, together with the European Commission, commits to ensuring that local governments are placed at the heart of governance and development”, declared Khalifa Sall.

Annemarie Jorritsma declared: Today we undertake the commitment to act as custodians of the values of the EU members […];  we are the inheritors of a movement that has gathered mayors strong enough to overcome the differences of their national governments. We therefore have the will and power to play a role in development.”

Lazaro Savadided added: "We look to European Commission for its ongoing support in ensuring that the SDGs will be implemented with a bottom up approach".


This new partnership acknowledges the role of municipalities, towns, cities and regions as decision-makers in defining policies and contributing to addressing global challenges, as well implementing shared global agendas at local level.

The areas of cooperation cover most of the challenges faced today by local and regional governments. In fact, this partnership comes at a time when the world is defining the international development agenda. This agreement gives the global network additional strength to contribute to the Post-2015 Agenda and to work towards Habitat III. The partnership also enhances the network’s means to raise the importance of local development within the global agenda; to stress the need to include local governance in the Sustainable Development Goals; and to work on shaping localization, its implementation, and addressing global challenges from a local perspective.

The Strategic Partnership will strengthen the network and contribute to its sustainability. It will support our transformation and enable us to serve members with changing needs. This will be most challenging, and all of us must play a part. It is our conviction that we will be able to build stronger political networks which are resilient, more inclusive and with an even wider reach. Last but not least, the partnership will promote cooperation among local governments and foster the development of a stronger learning agenda in UCLG,” said Kadir Topbaş.

In summary, the activities developed within the framework of this partnership should support UCLG to promote its shared values of democratic and participative governance built around subsidiarity, inclusive policies against poverty, dialogue for peace, and solidarity.

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