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Intensified cooperation crucial to respond to water local crisis around the world

The 8th edition World Water Forum, the world largest event on water in the world, is taking place in Brasilia from 18 to 23 March, gathering a high number of delegates involved on the water and sanitation management at all levels.  The mission of this year’s edition is to promote awareness, build political commitment and trigger action on critical water issues at all levels especially considering the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.

Read the Article at the Source: Intensified cooperation crucial to respond to water local crisis around the world

In the framework of the World Water Forum, the International Conference of Local and Regional Authorities, co-organised by UCLG, the World Water Council (WWC), the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), the National Confederation of Municipalities of Brazil (CNM), the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the Secretariat of Federal Affairs of Brazil gathered 400 leaders and practitioners to reach recommendations on how to intensify action at all levels in order to leave no one behind in water and sanitation goals.

High participation from Latin America and Africa

UCLG, as co-organiser of the International Conference, mobilised a delegation of 40 mayors and governors, co-lead by Iván Arciénega, Mayor of Sucre, President of FLACMA and Vice-President of UCLG, and Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, Mayor of Libreville and Vice-President of UCLG. 

Our mobilization, that of cities, municipalities and regions, must not weaken in order to achieve SDG6 and SDG11.”  Rose Christine Ossouka Raponda, Mayor of Libreville and Vice-President of UCLG for Africa

We must recall the national and international communities that access to water is a fundamental human right and must be the basis for rebuilding our collective action“, Iván Arciénega, Mayor of Sucre and Vice-President of UCLG for Latin America

Many municipalities face tremendous challenges regarding water management, water scarcity, and the impact of climate change on water resources as well as in providing clean water and sanitation services to all citizens and the Forum counted with a high participation from local and regional elected officials from Latin America, particularly Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Africa, especially Kenya, Benin, Gabon, Botswana, Malawi, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco and Sao Tomé who conveyed that message of alert to the world.

Local governance, capacity-building and water scarcity on the agenda

Throughout the Forum, local and regional leaders recalled that local and regional authorities are the central actors regarding management of water and sanitation. The issue of municipalisation of water and sanitation services was put on the table and had a central role in the discussion. In order to ensure that the needs of the communities are met, local and regional governments should have a stronger role regarding decisions on water management.

During the plenary sessions of the Conference, mayors and governors underlined the need to promote decentralized cooperation between local governments as well partnerships between all levels of governments.  International and regional support should be provided to training centres and programmes to strengthen capacities of local governments and service providers and improve provision on water and sanitation.

Participants all agreed that climate change will have an impact on the entire water cycle and on the citizens of our communities: it will make water scarcer, increase the risk of extreme natural events such as floods and droughts, limit the renewal of groundwater reserves, cause rising sea levels and temperatures and make rainfall patterns and the regimes of rivers more unpredictable.

In this respect, the responsibility for SDG6 on access to water and sanitation for all falls principally to local authorities and cannot be achieved without good local governance, the sustainable management of natural resources and effective urbanization. Mayors and governors recalled that effective local-level water management is critical to the achievement of all global goals.

A call for immediate action

The International Conference of Local and Regional Authorities committed globally by agreeing on a “Brasilia Local and Regional Governments Call for Action on Water”, encouraging actors to apply 10 recommendations resulting in experiences and lessons learned.

[Read the Brasilia Local and Regional Governments Call for Action on Water and Sanitation]

The 10 recommendations include, among others, the promotion of urban water resilience, capacity building in water governance, and equity access to balancing quality and quantity for marginalised population.

More information:


See the programme

See the programme of the International Conference of Local and Regional Authorities

Visit the UCLG dedicated page to water and sanitation

Read the Article at the Source: Intensified cooperation crucial to respond to water local crisis around the world

Photo credits: @Flacma 


Nations are no longer driving globalization—cities are — Quartz

Urbanization has already declared itself the mega-trend of the 21st century, with half the world’s population now living in cities for the first time in human history. While the implications for economic growth have been widely discussed, urbanization’s impact on diplomacy and sovereignty will be equally profound.

Read the Article at the Source: Nations are no longer driving globalization—cities are — Quartz

Consider just two major issues on the global agenda: security and climate change. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the November 2008 terror attack on Mumbai, both cities moved to strengthen their own security services and intelligence capabilities beyond what Washington and Delhi could provide and mandate. The Mideast’s iconic Dubai has long done the same beyond the shadow of federal Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

Now look at climate change. Two decades of climate diplomacy have yielded little progress in devising a meaningful global framework to reduce carbon emissions. Instead, new regimes led by cities are emerging. Started by London mayor Ken Livingstone in 2006, the C40 initiative brings together over 60 cities and mayors to exchange best practices, transfer technologies, and promote public-private partnerships that reduce the urban carbon footprint. The standards set by C40 members in clean-energy buildings, waste management, and sustainable transport systems substantially exceed existing standards set by inter-governmental negotiation.

As cities continue to arrogate major diplomatic and economic functions, should we still be talking about international relations?

To appreciate the role of the city in 21st century, we must remember that cities are humanity’s first and most permanent fixed settlements, and arguably oldest diplomatic actors. Ancient Mesopotamian and Anatolian cities engaged in regular exchange of envoys to establish mutual recognition and merchants who conducted trade missions. Medieval and Renaissance diplomacy was similarly dominated by city-states, particularly in Italy and northern Europe with the Hanseatic League, whose intense diplomatic competition and interactions helped to undermine the Holy Roman Empire, while fueling the commercial revolution and voyages of exploration across the Atlantic and to Asia. Even after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, widely marked as the transition to sovereign nation-states, diplomacy remained a heterogeneous affair all the way until the post-Napoleonic Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in 1815. From a “city” viewpoint, nation-states have only been the (nearly) exclusive diplomatic actors for less than two centuries.

Globalization itself is as much an inter-city phenomenon as it is about lowering national borders. According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, almost the entire world economy is represented by approximately 400 cities. Airline connections around the world depend on the development of robust “hubs” such as Chicago, London, Zurich or Singapore, which in turn magnify the reach of globalization inward to smaller cities in their regions.

Read the Rest of the Article at the Source: Nations are no longer driving globalization—cities are — Quartz

How cities can respond as national governments turn rightward | Citiscope

Across the planet, 2016 witnessed a dramatic rise of new, rightward-leaning political movements, challenging existing orders — and raising potentially serious challenges for cities. Now the electoral changes have begun to pose stark dilemmas for urbanists in many world cities.

Perplexed about the shift and its implications, I turned to Bruce Katz, the inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution and the founder of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program. Katz also authored a book on urban regions and their potentials, a topic I’d long focused on myself — The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Institution Press, 2013).

The background for my interview with Katz was a clear political fact: In two major elections — Britain’s “Brexit” vote, as well as Donald Trump’s victory in the U. S. presidential election — the voters in the major cities found themselves on the losing side, often by overwhelming margins. In fact, Katz is now working on a new publication, with long-time urban expert Jeremy Nowak, on what cities can and should do to protect their interests in the age of Trump.

Source: How cities can respond as national governments turn rightward | Citiscope

The trend may just be warming up. In lands across the globe, there appears to be a tide of rising right-wing parties ready to take on political establishments. Though they differ widely in their ideological hues, most exhibit a distinctly anti-urban tenor. They include the Alternative for Germany, the National Front in France, the Five Star Movement in Italy and Britain’s UK Independence Party.

Voter discontent isn’t limited to Europe. A May 2016 presidential election in the Philippines was won by Rodrigo Duterte, an authoritarian populist who promised the execution of thousands of drug dealers — a murderous pledge that is not only being fulfilled but also catching many innocents in its crossfire.

In Brazil, historically a Latin American leader in taking steps to bring millions out of poverty, there’s now an ultra-conservative, all-male national cabinet that’s moved to freeze public expenditures for 20 years. Leadership in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo both veered rightward in 2016 municipal elections. In Rio, retiring Mayor Eduardo Paes, a centrist who served as president of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, was replaced by Marcelo Crivella, a conservative senator who is affiliated with an influential megachurch. Overall, the Worker’s Party of the impeached former president Dilma Rousseff lost 60 percent of the contests for control of Brazil’s municipalities.

[Read: Citiscope’s exit interview with São Paulo’s Fernando Haddad]

While national situations differ, two themes seem to underlie many of the new political movements. One is resentment on the part of working-class and rural voters who believe their interests have been neglected, even as urban elites have prospered over recent decades. A second is hostility toward immigrants, especially Muslims — an issue centrist parties have addressed only reluctantly, yet clearly an echo of fierce enmity toward Jews in the Europe of the 1930s.

Reflective of the radical shift, there’s now a distinct possibility that the European Union itself could be in peril if its defenders are defeated in major French and German elections this year.

These trends emerge, ironically, at the very moment that voices such as that of American scholar Benjamin Barber are rising in favor of a world “Parliament of Mayors” that could elevate local powers and in many respects bypass nation-state governments entirely.

The resentments of voters vary by world region. In the United States, for example, the severest economic loss and voter revolt has come in rural areas and small towns and cities with stagnant or very slowly growing economies, including many reliant on a single industry. Meanwhile, large U. S. cities and metropolitan regions have tended to fare much better. In Europe, by contrast, the resentment appears rooted more in emerging fears from a surge in terrorism.

Responses will vary

Katz sees cities as powerful antidotes to the winds of globalization — although the responses from them will differ. In Great Britain, a nation with very few elected mayors, most authority is centralized. That will make it harder for local governments to respond quickly to their own challenges, as opposed to the United States, where local rule — and citizen power — is far greater.

For example, local voters in the U. S. approved $200 billion for local transportation projects on the same day Trump’s Republican Party swept to victory on the national and state levels. And if federal taxes are cut under Republican rule, local taxes will almost surely be proposed — to pay for schools, transit, construction and other pressing needs.

Another major U. S. asset, Katz insists, is on the immigration front — the country’s history “as a more integrated nation” puts it in a stronger position than Europe, where “assimilation is an almost existential challenge.” Plus, he adds, the United States “is used to minorities becoming majorities.” For example, Irish Catholics, once scorned by entrenched Protestant majorities in New England, eventually saw one of their own elected president in John F. Kennedy.

Katz suggests the time is ripe across the world “to invent the 21st-century city.” City agencies are often organized in Balkanized silos, at a time when problem-solving requires multidisciplinary solutions to tackle problems such as housing, transport and land use together.  “Economies are so advanced — but governments are still narrowly drawn,” he notes. “The compelling need is for cities to reinvent their governance.”

It’s particularly important, Katz suggests, that the political and economic institutions within metropolitan areas coordinate their efforts to develop advanced economies that can thrive in a competitive global environment.

Katz cites models such as Copenhagen, which pledges to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Copenhagen is innovating in clean, renewable energy at the metropolitan and neighborhood scale, and building a pattern of mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods where biking and transit are the easiest ways to get around. Meanwhile, the city is building an educated workforce with deep technical knowledge. The Copenhagen City and Port Corporation — publicly owned but privately managed — is using the value of publicly owned land to spur the regeneration of large districts, like one known as North Harbour, while providing revenues to finance new transit infrastructure for the entire city.

[Read: Three lessons for cities in Denmark’s clean-energy revolution]

As a U. S. model, Katz notes the Denver region, where cooperation between the city and its suburbs has raised capital for infrastructure, arts and culture, and downtown revitalization. In 2004, the region voted for an innovative regional transportation plan, FasTracks, financed in large part by a multijurisdictional ballot referendum approving one of the biggest sales-tax increases the region had ever seen. Katz says healthy regions like Denver develop deep partnerships — among government, business, philanthropy, media and higher education — that will help them to form strong strategies to remain nationally and globally competitive.

Room for action

Major urban regions worldwide need to keep learning from each others’ successes, Katz suggests. In the United States, mayors can act creatively, reaching out for alliances with business, labor and nonprofit organizations. But their authority is often limited, with power over essential services like water, housing, seaports and airports controlled by separate public authorities. The pattern poses obstacles in bringing together the varied resources — capital, land, infrastructure and human resource development — to develop coordinated strategies that will lead to more efficient and responsive services and effective growth.

In many countries outside the United States, city governments may be strong but operate more “solo” — exercising their official powers but without a history or culture of engaging the broad range of non-governmental players that could enrich their alliances and outreach.

In Europe, the refugee crisis is prompting the growth of new civic institutions and corporate strategies that innovate on integration strategies. In Hamburg, for example, a new nonprofit called Hanseatic Help set up the largest clothing storage and redistribution system in the city, and developed an app that brings together volunteers and refugees. In Stockholm, LinkedIn has created a platform called Welcome Talent to give every refugee a profile that identifies his or her workplace qualifications and accelerates attachment to the labor market.

Katz’s bottom line: In an increasingly contentious political world, cities should seek ways to expand their scope and effectiveness on every front, from business development to clean streets, and climate protection to advanced educational opportunities. And to look globally, past the ideologically preoccupied national governments, for new models and approaches.

Katz sees the rise of a “New Localism” where “cities become the vanguard of problem solving and social progress in the world, fueled by new norms of growth, governance and finance, and powerful public, private and civic networks.”

Source: How cities can respond as national governments turn rightward | Citiscope


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The Sanctuary Solution | Jacobin

On Donald Trump’s long list of bête noires, “sanctuary cities” are near the top. And he’s promised to act on his ire.

In a major immigration speech in August, the president-elect vowed to withhold all federal funding from cities and states that don’t actively particulate in deportation campaigns. Securing their compliance is the only way Trump can hope to carry out his campaign plank of “immediately” expelling up to 3 million immigrants — at least short of massively expanding the federal immigration agency, which only has about six thousand employees.

If Trump gets his way, not only will cities have to turn over records that detail their residents’ immigration statuses (such as the municipal IDs that New York started issuing last year, or the IDs San Francisco introduced in 2009), but they could even be required to hold people without warrants or formal charges on the federal government’s behalf — or risk losing critical revenue.

The term “sanctuary city” is rather misleading, conjuring up images of cities actively shielding their residents from deportation, like clergy hiding refugees inside a cathedral. In truth, federal agents go wherever they please. The only difference is that in sanctuary cities, local police concern themselves with local laws and leave enforcement of national laws to the federal government.

Source: The Sanctuary Solution | Jacobin

Sanctuary city or not, undocumented immigrants who have run-ins with the law find themselves with almost no protection. As a matter of course, their fingerprints are sent to the FBI and the immigration police as soon as they’re booked. If federal records show they’re in the country unlawfully, all the feds need to come pick them up is a warrant. (The only exception is New York City, where undocumented immigrants are guaranteed a lawyer to defend them in court.)

At the same time, sanctuary cities still represent one of the strongest bulwarks against Trump’s inhumane immigration proposals. While there are few concrete estimates, a huge share of the country’s undocumented population lives in these cities. And the more local governments that resist Trump’s agenda, the greater the logistical hurdles he’ll face implementing it.

The History of Sanctuaries

“Sanctuary cities” are cloaked in religious language for a reason. To the extent that US municipalities look out for the undocumented, it’s largely because of an activist movement that grew out of churches and synagogues.

In the early 1980s, refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala were crossing the US border in droves, driven from their countries by civil war. The Reagan administration, viewing these conflicts as fronts in the Cold War, funded the countries’ oppressive right-wing governments and refused to grant the refugees asylum status. “If you had a weak claim from the Soviet Union, you would get asylum,” recalled Dan Kesselbrenner, the director of the National Immigration Project, who was litigating cases during that period. “But if you were persecuted within an inch of your life in El Salvador or Guatemala, you would be denied.”

So Quakers and Presbyterians in Tucson took it upon themselves to start smuggling refugees across the border. By the mid-1980s, more than 150 congregations across the country were resettling refugees.

Cities, partly in response to this influx, began revising their own policies. In Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, many undocumented immigrants wouldn’t even go to the hospital or report crimes to the police for fear of being deported. So the cities drafted laws that provided basic security to those without papers. An executive order issued by New York mayor Ed Koch was representative: it forbid city employees like cops and welfare workers from reporting undocumented people to the feds, unless they were suspected of committing a crime.

In subsequent years, congressional Republicans tried to put the squeeze on sanctuary cities. After several abortive attempts, they finally succeeded in 1996 during negotiations over Bill Clinton’s welfare-reform bill, managing to work in a single sentence stating that cities couldn’t stop their employees from turning in undocumented immigrants. A second law passed that year authorized the federal government to immediately deport any undocumented immigrant who had committed a misdemeanor, like marijuana possession. (Before that, immigrants were only kicked out if they’d been convicted of a crime that involved at least a five-year jail sentence.)

While the Clinton administration was no friend of immigrants, the anti–sanctuary city legislation lay dormant until after 9/11, when the Bush administration seized on it and began training local cops to identify undocumented immigrants. Particularly in Republican-leaning states like Florida and Georgia, anyone who was booked into a county jail could be interrogated about their immigration history. These interviews became the main channel for deportations, says Muzaffar Chishti, an attorney with the Migration Policy Institute.

In 2008, the feds went a step farther: they started requiring law enforcement to send the fingerprints of every person arrested for any offense, anywhere, to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Whenever someone “appeared” to be undocumented, Homeland Security could ask the local jail to hold the person for an extra forty-eight hours, excluding weekends — even if there was no warrant, even if their charges had been dismissed — so federal agents would have time to come pick them up.

And pick them up they did. Beginning in 2009, Obama tripled the budget for immigration enforcement, spending more on it than on all other federal law-enforcement agencies combined. With newfound cooperation from local jails, the number of deportations shot up: from 319,000 in 2007 to about 392,000 in 2009. Obama’s deportation machine kept breaking records, topping out at 438,000 in 2013. Well over half of the immigrants removed during his tenure did not have prior criminal records.

But the immigrant rights movement pushed back, both in the streets and in the courts. In 2014, a federal judge ruled that a county in Oregon had violated a woman’s rights by detaining her, at the federal government’s request, without probable cause. In the wake of the decision, hundreds of counties began spurning the federal government’s detention requests, in part to avoid being sued themselves.

They weren’t offering sanctuary, in the literal sense; they just refused to hold people without formal charges, or to give special notifications when the detainees were released. Their message to Homeland Security was essentially, “If you want to pick them up, just get a warrant.”

The Obama administration, faced with rising opposition, backed off the detainer requests and took a different tack, prioritizing the removal of violent criminals.

Trump, on the other hand, seems to be spoiling for a fight. But he can’t slash all federal funding to sanctuary cities without congressional authorization. (He could choose to revoke only Department of Justice funding instead of all federal funding, but this is unlikely given his “law-and-order” stance.)

A bill filed this past summer by Pennsylvania senator Patrick Toomey provides a glimpse of the kind of legislation we might see. The measure — which failed in the Senate but could be revived in some form — would significantly roll back federal funding to sanctuary cities.

Take New York City: federal dollars makes up less than 9 percent of the total budget, but departments like Housing and Preservation and Children’s Services would lose nearly half their funding. That kind of quick drawdown would deal a considerable blow — both to direct beneficiaries of government programs and the local economy.

Trump is betting that in the face of such threats, local officials will fold.

Roadblocks for Trump

But Trump’s desire to steamroll sanctuary cities will come up against a couple potential roadblocks.

The first is judicial. In 1987, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could withhold a small fraction of annual highway funding from states that refused to raise their drinking age to twenty-one. (Twice since then, for helmet laws and lower speed limits, Congress has invoked the same right.)

But in 2012, while upholding parts of the Affordable Care Act, the ultra-conservative Roberts Court ruled that the federal government couldn’t withhold money from states that declined to expand their Medicaid programs.

While it would be more than foolhardy to count on the Supreme Court to rein in Trump, sanctuary cities’ legal challenges will at the very least frustrate Trump’s dream of taking them down in one fell swoop.

And for now, elected officials in sanctuary cities don’t seem to be wavering.

Many have declared, either via a statement from the mayor or a vote by the city council, that they will stick to their current immigration policies even if it means jeopardizing federal cash. At least five additional cities (four of them in Vermont, the fifth in California) have decided to adopt new sanctuary policies for the first time.

And last week, the leaders of thirty-one local governments, including the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, sent an open letter to Obama, insisting that he take last-minute measures to curb Trump’s deportation plans. Specifically, they asked him to protect the personal information of people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and to extend eligibility for Temporary Protected Status, which allows migrants to remain in the US if their homelands are declared unsafe by the US attorney general.

Trump’s election has sparked a flurry of action on immigration at the local level. Seattle’s mayor has urged that $250,000 be spent to support undocumented students in the city’s public schools; Los Angeles has started advising its undocumented residents not to fill out any new applications for city programs (lest the records be seized); and Oakland’s city council has called on California’s governor to institute sanctuary policies statewide.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s city council is considering a proposal to allocate $5 million for lawyers who could represent the undocumented in deportation proceedings, and the city attorney says he’s already preparing to sue if a bill like Toomey’s is passed.

In New York, undocumented immigrants will benefit from a program implemented in 2014 that guarantees legal defense to those without immigration papers — similar to the measure San Francisco is considering. And New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to destroy the applications for city-issued ID cards if it’s necessary to keep them from the feds (though a Republican group has filed a lawsuit to stop him).

Other laws that aren’t explicitly connected to immigration policy could prove to be a boon for the undocumented as well. Earlier this year, New York City approved a measure directing police to stop arresting people for low-level offenses like public urination or littering, and to issue citations instead. As law professors Daniel Altschuler and Peter Markowitz have argued, such measures limit people’s contact with the carceral state, and thus reduce the chances they’ll be deported.

Staying Trump’s Deportation Hand

With Trump vowing to slash funding to sanctuary cities within his first one hundred days, the showdown could set the tone for anti-Trump resistance over the next four years.

Many urban mayors have little to gain politically from working with Trump — even Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s neoliberal mayor, has rebuffed the president-elect — and refusals to comply at the local and state level will place enormous burdens on Trump’s deportation plans. Standing together, sanctuary cities could marshal significant resources for their legal defense, while at the same time drain Trump’s political capital. Phil Torrey, an attorney with the Harvard Immigration Project, says it’s likely that each uncooperative city’s sanctuary laws would have to be dealt with individually — so the more cities push back, the greater the headaches for Trump.

Activist groups will be absolutely central to this effort.

Indeed, what’s most likely to stay Trump’s deportation hand is the grassroots organizing of the immigrant rights movement and the power of disruptive action. Immigrant rights groups forced President Obama to pull back from a deportation-only immigration policy. In the wake of Trump’s Electoral College victory, thousands streamed into the streets and blocked highways across the country.

Mayors tempted to cave or compromise on sanctuary city status will have to deal with the same specter of mass shutdowns.

Source: The Sanctuary Solution | Jacobin