Outcomes of the 24th UN-Habitat governing council

A delegation of the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments lead by its Co-President Muchadeyi Masunda, Mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Vice-President Wolfgang Schuster, President of Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), represented local governments at the 24th Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, held from 15 to 19 April 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.

This year’s Session of the Council was of particular importance in view of the upcoming Habitat III Conference in 2016 that will define the new international urban agenda. The focus of this Session was: “sustainable urban development: the role of cities in creating improved economic opportunities for all, with special references to youth and gender”.

Local Government Statements

During the High-Level Segment Plenary on 16 April, Co-President Masunda addressed the Council and stated that “the Urban Agenda will need to be people-centered, bridge the rural-urban divide and understand urbanization as a territorial issue not limited to urban centers. It will need to put cohesion among territories at the forefront acknowledging important metropolization processes that are taking place and positive effects in development, as well as the increasing role of intermediate cities in developing countries. It will further need to recognize culture as a fundamental cornerstone for development”. Click here to access his full speech.

During the Dialogue with Habitat Partners on this Session’s focus celebrated on 17 April, Co-President Masunda reminded member states of the importance of women’s economic empowerment, and the Chair of Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) Fatimetou Mint Abdelmalick, Mayor of Tevragh-Zeina, Mauritania, took the floor to advocate for increasing women’s participation in local decision-making.

Furthermore Co-President Masunda and the Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu, Mr. Iman Nur Icar, participated on 16-17 April jointly with, among others, UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, and Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Aisa Kirabo, on a national live TV program “Urban Talk: A debate on sustainable cities in the 21st century”.

Cities in the new Development Agenda

Vice-President Schuster was invited on 14 April to participate in the Roundtable on Urbanization and Development: Post-2015 Development Agenda jointly with, among others, the UN-Habitat Executive Director and Amina Mohamed, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning. Dr. Schuster emphasized the need to consider a goal for sustainable cities in the new development agenda and highlighted the interest of building one single agenda incorporating the MDGs and SDGs. He further called for a new international governance architecture that follows the multi-partnership principle and includes local and regional governments in the decision-making table.

Policy Resolutions adopted by the 24th Session

As you know, the UN-Habitat Governing Council was submitted draft resolutions for adoption that are of crucial importance for local and regional governments and will define the agenda of national and international institutions in several relevant areas. Click here to see the full list of draft resolutions.

Following our previous communication, the UCLG delegation advocated the national government members to include wording taking into account local governments’ interest and booked important successes with the support of friendly governments.

The relevant draft resolutions are those that promote decentralization, advocate for the recognition of the role of local and regional authorities, its capacities and competences, and acknowledge institutionally the united voice of local governments and UCLG. By clicking on each of them, you can access the full text followed by a brief summary regarding the local government’s perspective:

Inputs for and support to the preparatory process of the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)

It acknowledges the emerging role of Habitat partners and non-State actors such as local governments. It also suggests including local governments in the preparation of the national reports that will study the Habitat II Agenda implementation and new challenges. It invites the Secretary General of the Conference to encourage local authorities to contribute actively to the preparatory process for Habitat III and to the Conference itself.

Inclusive and sustainable urban planning and elaboration of international guidelines on urban and territorial planning

It encourages Member States to promote people-oriented participatory and inclusive approaches, by involving local authorities, in the preparation and implementation of city plans. It requests the UN-Habitat Executive Director to engage, in the drafting of the guidelines, in an inclusive consultation process with international associations of local authorities, including UCLG.

Urbanization and sustainable urban development in the post-2015 agenda

It encourages Governments and Habitat Agenda partners to give appropriate consideration in their contribution to the Post-2015 Agenda to sustainable urbanization, sustainable urban development and the role of cities and local governments in this regard.

Inclusive national and local housing strategies to achieve the Global Housing Strategy paradigm shift

It acknowledges the role of responsibility of local governments in addressing current challenges related to segregation, housing and slums. It invites local governments to engage with UN-Habitat to share experiences in housing and slum upgrading. It invites local governments in formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating inclusive National and Local Housing Strategies.

Promoting sustainable urban development by creating improved economic opportunities for all, with special reference to youth and gender

It recalls the importance of improving competences and capacities of local and regional authorities in the field of land and property valuation and taxation. It encourages Governments to adopt innovative tools for generation additional resources for local authorities in addressing urban planning matters including through land and property value capture. It invites Habitat Agenda partners to provide resources to UN-Habitat to support its initiatives on local economic development and innovative revenue generation for local authorities.

Strengthening UN-Habitat’s work on urban basic services

It recalls the guidelines on access to basic services for all and the guidelines on decentralization and strengthening of local authorities. It calls upon the UN-Habitat Executive Director and Member States to increase policy coherence and institutional capacities and to focus on the urban poor in line with the above-mentioned guidelines.

2014 World Urban Forum

The 7th edition of the World Urban Forum will take place on early April in 2014 in Medellín, Colombia.

UNACLA: A stronger political agenda

The United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA) met on 14 April. Co-President Masunda, Vice-President Schuster, the President of Association of Local Government Authorities of Kenya (ALGAK) Tarayia Kores and the Chair of REFELA Fatimetou Mint Abdelmalick participated in the meeting that also saw the attendance of the Mayor of Kigali (Rwanda), Deputy Mayor of Mogadishu (Somalia), Mayor of Wakatobi (Indonesia), Deputy Mayor of Lusaka (Zambia), Mayor of Asker (Norway), representatives of the cities of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Medellín (Colombia) and Brasilia (Brazil), as well as of the local government organizations of UCLG Eurasia, Metropolis, Global Fund for Development of Cities and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.

The meeting participants praised the Istanbul Statement of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments for Post-2015 and Habitat III. They commended this effort and requested that UNACLA’s work become a complementary element.

UN-Habitat Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director acknowledged the need for the voice of local authorities to be further heard in the new development agenda and committed to working with UCLG and UNACLA to this end.

Mayors and Local Government representatives requested that UNACLA have a greater role in the political Agenda of UN-Habitat and called upon the Secretariat to find ways to ensure this.

The report on Urban Mobility, UNACLA thematic focus for 2011/2012, was presented and highlighted cases of different cities around the world. The representatives stressed the need to consider mobility from a social perspective and not as a technical solution. Click here to access the report.

The UNACLA thematic focus for 2012/2013 will be Job Creation and Local Productivity. The work aims at emphasizing the role of the public sector in creating decent employment for all, particularly for the youth. Mayors highlighted the need to regain some of the lost competences at local level and of localizing the economy through partnership with small and medium size businesses who share local interests. The Committee also discussed Flood Protection and Environmental Resilience which will be the next thematic focus after Job Creation.