The City of Barcelona and the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments hosted the Cities Alliance Annual Public Policy Forum, on 20 and 21 January, which this year focused on ways to improve the effectiveness of development aid.
La Pedrera (Catalan for 'The Quarry'), is a Barcelona landmark designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi during the years 1906–1912. Photo © D. Biau / UN-HABITAT
Local and regional government representatives, donor agency representatives and development institutions agreed on the need to improve city management to combat poverty at the global level, by focusing efforts on the poorest neighbourhoods and by putting local actors in the driver’s seat of urban development.
“Cities are ready to fulfill their responsibilities to the most disadvantaged among their citizens. We cannot, however, be truly effective unless we reinforce joint plans and strategies with all the actors involved in development. For this to happen, there needs to be an agreement between local and national governments and multilateral organizations,” the mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, declared at the opening of the forum.
The participants urged the international community to redouble efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals, which they said could only be achieved if local authorities were brought in as 'real' partners.
Acknowledging the relevance of the principles established by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, participants asked national and international stakeholders to ensure that, in the implementation of international programmes of action, such as the Accra Agenda for Action, local governments are systematically included in the definition, implementation and monitoring of these projects.
The representative of UN-HABITAT, Mr. Daniel Biau, said that his agency was fully committed to the principles of the Paris Declaration on country ownership, the alignment of external support on national priorities and harmonization of external assistance, including around the newly defined UN-HABITAT country programmes.
Launched in 1999, by the World Bank and UN-HABITAT, the Cities Alliance partnership is dedicated to urban development. It brings together development agencies, national governments and local authorities. The World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), a member of the Cities Alliance, provides leadership in various areas such as local finance and decentralization.