UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, has established an Advisory Group of Experts on Decentralisation (AGRED) to guide the international dialogue on decentralisation and provide advice on strengthening local authorities around the world.
The inaugural AGRED meeting was held in Gatineau, Canada 9 – 10 March 2004, at the invitation of the Mayor, Mr. Yves Ducharme, who is President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). AGRED was created pursuant to Resolution 19/12 of UN-HABITAT's Governing Council and will operate as a sub-committee of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA).
Mrs. Tibaijuka told the meeting that Mr. Ducharme, as a founding member UNACLA, had been a key actor and privileged witness of UN-HABITAT’s work to promote the role and status of local authorities.
Mr. Ducharme said he believed AGRED would be an invaluable asset to UNACLA in representing the interests of local government within the UN system. It came into being, he added, as Canada’s new Prime Minister, Mr. Paul Martin, had announced a New Deal for Canadian Municipalities, signaling Canada's intention to involve itself more fully in the issues of urbanisation.
Mrs. Tibaijuka noted that the most economically successful and politically stable countries, like Canada, were those where local and regional authorities constituted the “first allies” of their central governments in terms of economic planning and decision-making.
The current AGRED membership includes experts from Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, India, Norway, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and a representative of Metropolis, and the new world organisation, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The AGRED group discussed decentralisation legislation based on their national experiences. The committee has agreed on an ambitious plan of work to identify positive components of decentralisation policies, from which all countries can benefit.
It was agreed that AGRED’s mandate will focus on the three pillars of developing recommendations, documenting best practices, and contributing to the international dialogue on decentralisation. For further information AGRED and upcoming meetings see: http://www.unhabitat.org/unacla/