Mayors from 31 African countries concluded a landmark two-day meeting in Nairobi on Friday 27 February, vowing to enhance their efforts to develop climate change adaptation and mitigation plans for African cities.
The mayors from 33 capital and major cities issued the Nairobi Declaration, in which they resolved to integrate these plans in city development strategies.
The mayors had converged in Nairobi at the conference organised by the UN-HABITAT to address challenges facing capital and major cities in Africa, and discuss the regional and global roles of mayors.
The meeting was opened by the Kenyan minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development, Mr Mutula Kilonzo, and attended by Ms. Grace Ekpiwhre, Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in the Federal Government of Nigeria who is also the Chair of the African Ministerial Conference of Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD), and Ms. Elizabeth Gateau, the Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).
The mayors tackled climate change adaptation and mitigation; capital cities and finances, and enhancing the role of representatives of local authorities in the UN system.
Other matters included the regional and global roles of Africa’s major cities, and targets 10 and 11 of the Millennium Development Goals on improving access to safe water and improving the lives of slum dwellers and ways of promoting the Habitat Agenda regionally and globally.
The mayors resolved to raise the voice of African cities by participating actively in the ongoing global climate change policy development process, towards the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year, and beyond.
They committed themselves to apprise their national associations and Governments of the outcome of the Conference and to take appropriate action to implement the commitments under the Nairobi Declaration.
The mayors also agreed to persuade their governments to adopt and implement the International Guidelines on Decentralization approved by the UN-HABITAT Governing Council in 2007 and the Guidelines on Access to Basic Services for All submitted to the forthcoming session of the Governing Council, and to apply these guidelines in cities in close partnership with Governments and service providers.
They urged the global leadership and Secretariat of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), which is the voice of local government before the United Nations and the international community, to urgently resolve the leadership crisis in its African chapter.
They asked UCLG, with the support of UN-HABITAT, to move the urban agenda forward at the United Nations General Assembly.
They said they would be participating in the forthcoming 22nd session of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council, with at least one local government representative each from the North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa regions. They also agreed to reconvene in a year’s time to review the progress.
A contact group with members drawn from the five regions was elected to ensure follow-up. They were Nouakchott and Tripoli (North Africa), Abdjan and Banjul (West), Harare and Maputo for Southern Africa, Yaounde and Brazzaville (Central) Kigali and Mwanza (East).
Speaking at the end of the meeting, UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said the regional conference had provided a new impetus to the local government movement in Africa.
“I am comforted that this conference has not been yet another forum for making laudable proclamations. The outcome is a realistic call for collective action,” she said.