Renewed political commitment of UCLG local leaders on key global development issues - Hangzhou


The 2017 UCLG World Council gathered over 400 local officials and practitioners from 6 to 9 December 2017 in Hangzhou, China, at the kind invitation of Mayor Xu Liyi.

The meetings were held in conjunction with the Forum on Smart City and Big Data organized by the City of Hangzhou and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) where local leaders recalled that there is no economic development without social cohesion in cities.

[See: Local and regional leaders lead the debate on city innovation and technology at the UCLG World Council]

This year, the UCLG World Council saw the inaugural sessions of the four newly created UCLG Policy Councils on Multilevel Governance, Resilience, the Right to the City, and Opportunities for All, which aim to increase political commitment on the major challenges faced by local governments around the world.

The Executive Bureau, chaired by UCLG President Parks Tau and UCLG Treasurer Berry Vrbanovic, appointed Emilia Saiz as Secretary General of the World Organization, following an international recruitment process.

[See: Appointment of Emilia Saiz as UCLG Secretary General]

The World Council, chaired by UCLG Co-President Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg, began with thoughts of solidarity for fellow members of the Council who find themselves in delicate situations, including Mayor Khalifa Sall.

The World Council adopted the World Organization’s strategic priorities for 2018-2022, which aim to enhance UCLG’s capacity to continue facilitating the representation of local and regional governments, consolidate the learning network and ensure that the perspective and experience of local and regional governments is included in the monitoring of the implementation of the global development agendas. The World Council further adopted the Work Plan for 2018, which builds on the new strategy.

The World Council acknowledged the good work done by the Policy Councils and Working Groups.

The World Council also adopted the following motions and statements: Support for Women’s Political Participation at Local Level, UCLG Statement before the One Planet Summit 2017, Motion on the Status of Jerusalem and the Hangzhou Statement on the occasion of the International Anti-corruption Day

The World Council further made a pledge to foster transparency, accountability and open government, and fight corruption. 

Finally, it was decided that the 6th UCLG World Congress, the largest gathering of local and regional governments in the world, will be organized jointly by the South African Association of Local Governments and the City of Durban in 2019.

Decisions were also taken on the next statutory and UCLG meetings for 2018 and on UCLG Culture Summit.

A renewed political commitment through UCLG Policy Councils

The four newly-launched UCLG Policy Councils held their inaugural sessions in Hangzhou.

The Policy Councillors on the Right to the City was chaired by the City of Barcelona represented by Laura Perez, Councillor of Barcelona. Councillor Perez welcomed the initiative of launching new Policy Councils, and underlined that the Right to the City should be at the centre of the governance of the city, including the right to adequate housing. It was agreed that Mayor Ada Colau and the President of Plaine-Commune, Patrick Braouezec, would lead the work of the Policy Council and that the Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, and the President of FCM, Jenny Gerbasi, would join the work of the Council. The Mayor of Lisbon emphasized that cities are spaces of diversity and that taking into account inclusion and equal opportunities is crucial for development. The President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities shed light on the efforts made at local and national levels for social and affordable housing to create liveable communities. Participants referred to the need to acknowledge migration as a benefit and opportunity for our cities, and the need to support local governments hosting a high number of refugees, especially in the Middle East.

[See the UCLG Policy Council: Right to the City and Inclusive Territories]

The UCLG Policy Council on Multi-level Governance recalled that decentralization, the principle of subsidiarity, and local autonomy are the core principles for renewed governance, as stated by the Chair of the Council, the President of the Province of Barcelona, Mercè Conesa. The President of UCLG Eurasia and Mayor of Kazan, Ilsur Metshin, referred to the need for a pragmatic approach and fruitful cooperation between local governments in order to better channel the sharing of best practices on multi-level governance. The Mayor of Kyzyl, Dina Oyun, and the Mayor of Nanterre, Patrick Jarry, shared their visions on a renewed system of governance from an isolated city (Kyzyl) and a peripheral town (Nanterre) in order to ground decision-making in the people, to reduce inequalities and foster sustainable development. Gustavo Baroja, Prefect of Pichincha and President of CONGOPE, recalled that decentralization without resources will not deliver results, and shared how new territorial alliances in his province helped achieve better governance. The Policy Council further agreed to continue their work under the leadership of Mercè Conesa and Monica Fein, Mayor of Rosario and UCLG Vice-President for Latin America.

[See the Briefing of the Policy Council:Territorial, Multilevel Governance and Sustainable Financing]

The third Policy Council on Opportunities for All reaffirmed that education, culture and city diplomacy are at the core of building peaceful cities. Under the leadership of the Mayor of Bilbao, Juan Mari Aburto, the Policy Council shared a set of public policies based on human rights, gender equality, transparency and social inclusion that have transformed the city and increased the well-being of its inhabitants. The Mayor of Soria and UCLG Vice President for Europe Carlos Martínez Mínguez put forward innovative policies on how his city appointed a team of citizens to take a number of the city’s decisions, enabling a radical change to be implemented in society. Finally, the Mayor of Soest, Rob Metz, stressed that city diplomacy is a crucial contribution for the well-being of citizens, especially in strengthening service delivery. 

[See the Briefing on the Policy Council: Opportunities for All, Culture and City Diplomacy: Keys to Sustainable Development and Peace]

The topic of Resilient Cities was discussed during the last UCLG Policy Council, co-chaired by the Mayor of Strasbourg and UCLG Co-President, Roland Ries, and Fatimetou Abdel Malick, Mayor of Tevragh Zeina. Roland Ries made three recommendations to be taken on board by the World Council regarding a renewed declaration on humankind, desertification and land degradation, as well as support to the ONE Climate Summit. Fatimetou Abdel Malick, UCLG Champion on Disaster Risk Reduction, recalled that further to the Sendai Agreement on Disaster in 2015, it is pivotal to continue strengthening the capacities of local governments in terms of planning, prevention and the creation of emergency tools, as well as creating an enabling financial environment. The UCLG Spokesperson on Climate and Councillor of Nantes, Ronan Dantec, underlined the work of the international networks on climate, especially on financial mobilization and the linkages between the SDGs and climate agenda. Li Xiaomian, Vice-Chair of the Guangzhou People’s Congress, welcomed the initiative of the creation of such a Policy Council and explained to local leaders around the globe that the creation of a Community of Practice on Urban Innovation is aimed at pooling resources and enhancing project collaboration among cities.

[See the Briefing of the Policy Council: Safer, Resilient and Sustainable Cities, Capable of Facing Crises]

Chairs of the Policy Councils encouraged members to join in their work.

Support for Women’s Political Participation at Local Level

In order to strengthen the participation of local elected women in the World Organization and following a proposal by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the UCLG World Council formally endorsed the appointment of a Global Women’s Caucus in order to ensure the inclusion of women’s perspective in deliberations and policies. The Caucus, composed of 10 local elected women from all world regions, should help enhance the participation of women in all areas of work of the organization and should promote initiatives that will help the World Organization enhance gender equality. 

Furthermore, ahead of the G7 Summit to take place in Canada in 2018, UCLG called upon G7 leaders to reaffirm their commitment to promoting women’s participation in policy making at local level and make efforts to improve data on the proportion of seats held by women in local governments at country level.

UCLG Statement before the One Planet Summit 2017

Following recommendation by the Policy Council on Resilience, UCLG members welcomed the initiative presented by Ronan Dantec to celebrate the One Planet Summit on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, and to highlight the need to enhance commitments from all actors, as well to pay particular attention to the financing of initiatives to fight Climate Change.

UCLG members called on networks to continue fostering solidarity among cities and local and regional governments, and to consolidate work within the framework of the Global Taskforce, as a reference mechanism for action as a constituency.

Motion on the Status of Jerusalem

In the context of crisis in the Middle East, the World Organization reaffirmed its attachment to the status of Jerusalem, defined according to the international law, and that no decision should be taken unilaterally on this topic. Members called for a global solution to be found.

Hangzhou statement on the occasion of International Anti Corruption Day

Following a proposal by the Federation of Spanish Municipalities and Provinces on anti-corruption day, UCLG local leaders endorsed a motion to promote the Hangzhou statement stressing their commitment to fight corruption and promote transparency in governance and public policies.

[See: On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day the UCLG World Council adopts the Hangzhou Statement]

Next UCLG gatherings

The next UCLG Retreat will take place in Barcelona from 22 to 26 January 2018.

The next Executive Bureau will be hosted by the City of Strasbourg from 23 to 26 May 2018 and the next World Council will be held by the City of Madrid in October 2018, in conjunction with the World Forum on Urban Violence.

It was agreed that for the year 2019, the UCLG Executive will be held in conjunction with the UCLG Culture Summit in the City of Buenos Aires.

For more information:

Follow the latest news on Twitter with #UCLGMeets and #Local4Action
See photos of December 8 and 9 meetings on Flickr