Peacebuilding, the 2030 Agenda and the refugee crisis: top priorities at UCLG World Council in Paris

Education for peace, the refugee crisis and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals were at the top of the global political agenda of local and regional governments at the UCLG World Council on 5 December. The UCLG World Council, the largest democratically elected international body of local leaders, was held in Paris in the framework of the COP21 climate negotiations.

The World Council opened with a motion tabled by Mayor of Paris and UCLG Vice President, Anne Hidalgo, on local democracy and governance as the basis of a successful Habitat III Agenda. The motion included the proposal to celebrate an International Summit against Violence and for Peace Education in Madrid, with the support of the city’s mayor, Manuela Carmena. The Summit will allow local leaders of the world to come together with civil society to reflect on peace. According to the motion, “cities and local governments have the duty and the responsibility to work for peace, to act against the use of violence to resolve conflicts, and to harness peace education as an instrument for our coexistence and future wellbeing.”  The conference will contribute to UCLG’s ongoing peacebuilding initiatives, particularly the first edition of the UCLG City of Bogotá Peace Prize, currently open for applications. The prize will be awarded at the UCLG Congress in Bogotá in October 2016.

The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau’s, motion on the role of local and regional governments in responding to humanitarian crises received broad and enthusiastic support from World Council members. In her speech, Mayor Colau emphasized the legal and moral responsibility of local governments to welcome those seeking refuge from natural and man-made crises in their cities and regions, especially when state governments fail to act. She went on to call for local governments to raise awareness and foster solidarity among their citizens, and for national governments to provide local governments with the resources and support to protect the human rights of displaced people. In line with the motion proposed by Barcelona, UCLG will set up a working group “to coordinate local action on refugees and allow cities to exchange knowledge, as well as to undertake joint advocacy directed at state governments regarding their competencies in the area.”

The Mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, tabled a motion on the local dimension of the 2030 Agenda. The proposal, which was approved by the Council, acknowledged the responsibility of local governments for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and underlined that “the localization of the 2030 Agenda is not the implementation of a global or national agenda at local level; but rather building adequate conditions at local level to achieve the global goals.” Mayor Sall closed his speech calling for:

  • A strong mechanism for the implementation of the SDGs at local and regional level, led by local and regional governments through their representative organizations.
  • An Intergovernmental Panel on Sustainable Urbanization under the auspices of the High-level Political Forum, with representation from local and regional governments

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