Follow the 2016 UCLG Retreat and Campus live

From 15-19 February, 2016 UCLG hosted the second edition of the Annual Retreat in Barcelona, the home of the organization’s World Secretariat.

The retreat was a chance to harness the power of our network and continue our work based on the collaboration and achievements of the last few years, as well as increasing the visibility and impact at all levels.

The programme included discussions around the planning for the UCLG World Congress on the 16 and 17 Feb, a presentation of priorities and key issues from 2015 & 2016 on 17 and 18 Feb, a session to analyze the synergies and programming for 2016 on the 18 Feb afternoon, and a strategic and visioning exercise about the evolution of the World Organization on the last day, Friday 19 Feb.

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Day 1: 16.02.2016- The UCLG Retreat and Campus kicks off with a view to the Congress in Bogota

As local government continue on their way to Latin America, where two key dates in the global agenda will take place in 2016, the UCLG Congress and Habitat III, the UCLG Retreat brings together the teams behind the scenes.  The Congress, to be held in Bogota, will unite our constituency and will be the setting for the presentation of the Global Agenda of Local and Regional Governments for 2030, a defining moment for the urban community.

Day one of the retreat was off to a flying start with some of the key topics, aspirations and challenges for the coming year and the Congress brought to the table by UCLG and the City of Bogota.  Meanwhile, on the sidelines, the storytelling design began to take shape. A dynamic session was then facilitated by the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) of the eThekwini Municipality and Co-Presidency of the Urban Strategic Planning Committee leading to some interesting discussions in which the opportunities for local governments at the UCLG World Congress and specific actions to implement them were debated. 

The day closed with a summary of the five main opportunities of the UCLG Congress, which were defined by participants during the brainstorming session as identifying financing opportunities for local governments, promoting action learning, building the UCLG community, strengthening the network and influencing the global agenda.

Tomorrow the participants will focus on shaping the programme for the congress, stay tunned with #UCLGMeets

Day 2: 17.02.2016 - The Congress programme takes shape

Day two of the UCLG Retreat and Campus kicked off by recalling the opportunities that the UCLG Congress represents for local governments and beginning an exploration into how to “take the plunge to do things differently!” UCLG Congresses are known for their capacity to bring together a global community, the upcoming Congress in Bogota will be no exception. Partners, members as well as UCLG sections and Committees will all be there to take advantage of this strategic moment.

There was mutual agreement among those at the Retreat today that UCLG should innovate with the format of the Congress to avoid falling back on old routines and habitats.  However, the burning question is: what would UCLG Regional Sections, Committees and member local governments have to do differently in order to make this happen? Some  inspiring ideas began to provide material to shape the programme.  Collaboration and exchange between different groups, new panel formats and smaller scale meetings were among the suggestions. Other thematic areas included building from the Right to the City, a cornerstone of the Urban Agenda to incorporate crisis, cooperation and solidarity, Governance and issues of quality local democracy and not forgetting learning and the role of Intermediary Cities and public spaces.

Making UCLG Stronger: Annual Campus of Committees and Working Groups 

UCLG´s Committees are a mechanism for members to share their knowledge on a wide range of topics. The afternoon saw representatives from some of UCLG’s Committees and Working Groups take to the floor to provide an update on their work and priorities for the global agenda, the presentations were brief but provided insight on progress and an exchange of key topics. The session was a chance to open up dialogue and direct collaboration between committees or regional sections to strengthen synergies between them.

Final comments from the room centered on commitment to action and implementation, concluding with an emphasis on the importance of shared and well defined goals and using our network and all means available to us to disseminate and promote our messages.

Day 3: 18.02.16- Increasing visibility and impact: the work of UCLG’s sections at a glance

Day three of the Retreat opened with plenty of coffee to keep up the energy and participation of the previous days. The morning was dedicated to the UCLG regional sections who presented areas of the UCLG work plan that have been implemented in Africa, Asia Pacific, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, West Asia, North America, in large Metropolises and smaller Regions of the world.  Disaster response, risk reduction, migration and refugees were some of the prominent themes coming from some of the regions.  Knowledge sharing, training and culture also echoed around the room. The Learning Agenda team presented some of their work on city to city cooperation and the peer learning events with comments on how to facilitate this process, a central topic in the UCLG Strategic Plan. 

One small step for the retreat: defining our common priorities for 2016

The afternoon continued with a push to define alliances between the actions of different parts of the network, in line with the objectives set out by the governing bodies, to enrich the work plan for 2016 and beyond. A chance, then, to recall some of the successes of 2015 and priorities for 2016, new communication tools, the advocacy and institutional agenda and the progress on GOLD IV - the 4th report on Local Democracy and Decentralization - that will see it´s first outing at the UCLG World Congress in Bogotá.

The C2C project on Migration and the Sendai Framework stepped up to address the humanitarian crises and disaster response, two of the hot topics of this year's retreat, with a message of “Knowledge,  Action and Dialogue”.  As the sun set outside the conference room there were some closing remarks on localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with many points remaining to be addressed in tomorrow's session on the “UCLG we want”.

Day 4: 19.02.2016 - What we want UCLG to be: an exercise in listening as the Retreat comes to a close

The last day of an intensive and highly productive week at the Retreat greeted the familiar faces from the last few days as well as some members of the UCLG Presidency. The day was dedicated to the future of the organisation and opened with an update on a Listening Exercise which captured the some feedback from our membership. Some reflections and critiques were shared and aspirations for the day's sessions to pave the way for added value for members and to a clearer and better structure, culture and service.

In the network we trust!

Hailing from far and wide, the political representatives attending the session then had the chance to share some short but powerful words. They spoke of inclusivity and a universal approach, making a difference to the daily lives of citizens,  urban innovation, the role and achievements of UCLG, how to connect with the grassroots level, funding for infrastructure and a people centered approach to address poverty.

The UCLG specialised team of facilitators conducted the proceedings as the afternoon got underway, with each table asked to provide inputs on what they would miss if UCLG did not exist and what they see as the top opportunities to make UCLG a resilient network.

The community of UCLG sections, committees and partners reaffirmed the sense of identity created by forming part of UCLG. They also made it clear that the united representative voice and the inspiration derived from this 100 year old movement of cities and local governments were undisputed assets and the knowledge, exchange, empowerment and community would be sincerely missed. Some bold ideas then came out of the discussions on opportunities to make the organisation resilient, urging the network to redefine and work with other networks, clarify, engage and communicate, be transparent and promote good practices, leadership and vision to strengthen and grow in the long term.

As the session, day and week wrapped up, an open debate infused the room with a sense that much progress has been made but that tools for action will form an important next step in the journey of local governments.

Thanks to all of you that made it happen.  Until next next year!

The Storyteller explains:  the people's movement, outreach, networks and connecting with the roots and new partners, participation, passion, values, influence, empowerment, diversity