Representatives from local and regional government networks gathered in Istanbul on 24 April for the meeting of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA), under the theme “The global development agendas, implications for local governments”, upon the invitation of Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul and Chair of UNACLA.
UNACLA is the fruition of the work of the organized constituency of local authorities’ plea for a growing partnership between local authorities and the UN system, in particular UN-Habitat. The existence of UNACLA emanates from the Istanbul Declaration. United Cities and Local Governments and its founding organizations have played a crucial role both in the setup of the Committee and in the mobilization of its members.
Following the Habitat III Conference in October 2016, the meeting aimed to address the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, the progress made in the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the crucial role local and regional governments are called upon to play in these intertwined agendas. The session further addressed the role of UNACLA in facilitating the dialogue between local and central governments to implement the global agendas at local level.
The meeting included the participation of Fatma Şahin, Vice-President of UCLG for the Middle East and West Asia region, Mayor of Gaziantep and President of UCLG-MEWA; Aysen Nikolaev, Mayor of Yakutsk and Vice-President of UCLG for the Eurasia region; and Carlos Martínez, Mayor of Soria, Vice-President of UCLG for Europe and Vice-President of CEMR. Mayors and local elected representatives from the Philippines, Benin and Botswana also attended the event and shared their experiences, along with Secretaries General and representatives from UCLG Sections, and partners such as the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and Citynet.
Kadir Topbaş recalled the work undertaken for the adoption of SDG 11 and stressed that localizing also entails explaining the importance of global agendas to local governments.
Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, emphasized how Habitat III brought about a crucial shift in paradigm by clearly recognizing the importance of urbanization as tool for development.
Josep Roig, Secretary General of UCLG, highlighted the importance of going beyond sectoral approaches and leveraging the interdependency that local governments face in their daily work. He further advocated to recall the values of the 100-year international municipal movement and embrace diversity. In this call, he stressed the importance of local democracy, capacity building and adequate financial resources to cope with the current trend of urbanization.
Lastly, in recalling the importance of UNACLA to strengthen the links between local governments and UN-Habitat, the session addressed the preparation of the 26th Governing Council of UN-Habitat, taking place in Nairobi on 8-12 May this year.