Governing with the citizen: Transparent cities and accountable local governments in an urbanizing world

UCLG, in collaboration with UN-Habitat, organized a session at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference held in Putrajaya, Malaysia from 2 to 4 September 2015, with the participation of UCLG-Africa and UCLG-ASPAC. A biennial event organized by Transparency International, the Conference gathered more than 1000 activists, organizations, and public and private sector representatives.

The UCLG–UN-Habitat session titled “Governing with the citizen: Transparent cities and accountable local governments in an urbanizing world” included the participation of the Hon. Clara Mvogo, Mayor of Monrovia, representing UCLG-Africa, and the Hon. Eric Constantino, Mayor of Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro (Philippines), representing UCLG’s Asia-Pacific Section. Hugette Labelle, former Chair of Transparency International, moderated the session, with additional inputs from Diana Lopez Caramazana, Head of the Local Governments and Decentralization Unit of UN-Habitat.

This is the first time that mayors have been structurally present at the IACC, and the event raised significant expectation within the transparency movement. Presentations on the local experience were followed by a lively debate with the public. Some of the questions raised addressed the pressing needs that urbanization places on local governments all over the world, and how the necessary response to citizens’ needs must be more accountable than ever.

Corruption is a phenomenon that unfortunately persists within all levels of government, but local government has a special responsibility to fight it. Building on the final point of the session, that governing without the citizen has become nearly impossible in the world of today, the speakers shared their own experiences from Monrovia and the Philippines on increasing accountability and service delivery. Issues such as the limitations of mandates, local salary pay scales and the possibility to act were also brought up in the discussions at global level.