A seat at the table of international negotiations

Habitat III Hearings for Local Authorities and the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments

On 16-17 May 2016 the Habitat III Hearings for Local Authorities and the first session of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments will be held at UN Headquarters in New York.  The Local Authority Hearings, convened by the UN, are the first UN consultative process to recognize and treat sub-national governments as a specific constituency.

Local governments and the communities they serve want to participate in the development of the New Urban Agenda and consequently global networks of local and regional governments are coordinating joint inputs and responses under the umbrella of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments. The Habitat III process will result in the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in Quito in October 2016. The New Urban Agenda will make recommendations to guide urban development policy across the world for the coming decades.

What are the Hearings ?

In December 2015 the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the participation modalities for the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). The resolution contains rules on the participation of local authorities and other stakeholders in the Habitat III process.  The text of the Resolution invites Local Authorities to exchange views with countries on the zero draft outcome document of Habitat III during the Hearings and includes a specific rule regarding the participation of representatives of local authorities. It also acknowledges the organization of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments.

What is the Second World Assembly?

The Second World Assembly is the mechanism through which the local and regional government constituency will make its joint inputs to the Habitat III process. 

The Second World Assembly is a three-part process, convened by the Global Taskforce, to be held over the course of 2016. The first session will take place in New York on May 15 afternoon, the second session in Bogota in October and the final session in Quito, also in October, within the framework of the Habitat III Conference.

First Session of the 2nd World Assembly

The first session in New York on 15 May will allow the World Assembly to provide feedback to prepare for the Local Authority Hearings of Habitat III to be held throughout the following two days and represents an important step forward for the visibility and influence of local and regional governments at international level.

The era of renewed global governance

The Hearings mark an extremely important event in the local government calendar marking the first UN consultative process to recognize sub-national governments as a specific constituency.  As the Habitat III process continues the contributions of local authorities will form part of the New Urban Agenda through these mechanisms, set up by and for the local government constituency. These Hearings signal an important milestone of what will potentially be the start of renewed global governance.

The Hearings will allow local government representatives to give feedback on the Zero Draft of the New Urban Agenda (to be released at the beginning of May) in advance of PrepCom3 in Surabaya, Indonesia from July 25-27.

Political messages of the Global Taskforce

  • Local and regional government networks of the Global Taskforce have agreed on the key principles that should underpin the Habitat III process, as well as a set of seven initial policy recommendations that should act as the “cornerstones” of the New Urban Agenda.
  • In its key recommendations to Habitat III, the Global Taskforce calls for the New Urban Agenda to recover the spirit of Habitat II, particularly with regard to its commitment to decentralization and its recognition of local authorities as the “closest partner” in the implementation of the agenda. It also reiterates its call for a single, universal agenda that links up with other major international agendas, including the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement
  • The document closes with a call for “a seat at the global table” for local and regional governments in recognition of their legitimacy as part of the state and their role in sustainable development.

These recommendations are a first input into the current negotiations on the New Urban Agenda. The text is a living document that will be updated in response to ongoing policy discussions and the Zero Draft of the Agenda, which will be issued shortly.

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