In a fitting conclusion to the Second World Urban Forum in Barcelona, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) leaders and UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Anna Tibaijuka, today signed a historic agreement that will elevate the working relationship between the United Nations system and local governments around the world to a new level. The agreement is aimed essentially at localizing the Millennium Development Goals to which world leaders committed themselves in the year 2000.
Headquartered in Barcelona, UCLG is a new world organization dedicated to promoting the values, objectives and interests of cities and local governments worldwide. It is the largest local government organization in the world, with members representing over half the world’s population. UCLG gives a voice to every type of local government – large and small, rural and urban – representing their interests at the global level, and addressing key issues for the future of cities and their citizens.
The new agreement will cover five key areas deemed of crucial importance – governance, local democracy, a new urban millennium partnership to localize the MDGs in cities, an international dialogue supported by the Advisory Group on Decentralization (AGRED), and a stronger UN Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA).
As part of UN-HABITAT’s Global Campaign on Urban Governance, UCLG and UN-HABITAT will provide each other with access to their networks and promote the involvement of local government associations in national campaigns by mobilizing resources at the global, national and local levels and running joint advocacy campaigns. They will also jointly establish a framework for a Global Observatory of Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD) that will look at best practices in local democracy, urban governance, and progress on decentralization around the world.
On the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the two organizations have agreed to strengthen the interface between national and local governments by boosting the capacity of local governments, associating with other UN bodies, and working with UCLG’s regional sections to promote the MDGs.
Under the AGRED framework, new efforts will promote the current international dialogue on decentralization as mandated by various resolutions of UN-HABITAT’s Governing Council. Finally, UCLG and UN-HABITAT have agreed to strengthen UNACLA to promote the local government agenda in the UN system. UNACLA’s recommendations will be a vital component of their partnership in implementing the Habitat Agenda and the MDGs.
During the last decade, many of UN-HABITAT’s programmes have developed substantive initiatives to support local authorities in many countries. Today’s agreement marks a historic milestone in the quest for local solutions to global goals.