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UCLG Bulletin

Volume 231 Number 5 | Thursday, 13 October 2016

2016 World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders Highlights

Wednesday, 12 October 2016 | Bogotá, Colombia

Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Bogotá, Colombia at:

The 2016 World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders began on Wednesday morning in Bogotá, Colombia, with an official opening ceremony featuring welcoming speeches and entertainment from the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra. Attendees then took part in sessions covering a wide variety of urban issues, including public transport, drug policies, the right to the city, inclusive and transparent city development and culture as a trigger for sustainable development. In the afternoon, an opening plenary addressed the theme of ‘The Era of Strong Local Government: Recalling the Spirit of Habitat II,’ followed by concurrent sessions on topics ranging from urban design, transport and population health to local governments as decision makers in world affairs. A permanent working platform on co-creating the city convened throughout the day.


Welcoming participants to Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogotá, highlighted that a good city makes life happier for any citizen, regardless of one’s per capita income. Peñalosa said that as a society becomes richer, housing, health and education improve, but mobility may worsen, stressing Bogotá’s initiatives to expand the Transmilenio bus system, bike lanes and park network.

Kadir Topbaş, President of UCLG and Mayor of Istanbul, Turkey, highlighted the relevance of cities for peace building, solving global challenges and implementing the SDGs. Underscoring the need for local governments to further exchange lessons on successful experiences, such as in transport, he praised the work of UCLG as a hub for knowledge sharing and city diplomacy.

Via a video message, Ban Ki-moon, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, recognized the challenge to create an inclusive, universal plan for peace and prosperity, drawing attention to the “vital role” of cities in realizing the 2030 Agenda. He called on local and regional leaders to ground the global agenda with local actions.

Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, explained that urbanization is a project of co-existence, a challenge to bring together people with different ideas and backgrounds to create peace and happiness. He recognized Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, adding support for Colombia to reach its final aim in its peace process.

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, said creating sustainable and equitable cities requires translating social investment into inclusion and connectivity for the impoverished. He noted Colombia’s important steps toward solidifying a strong economy but called for translating good performance into increased wellbeing and welfare for both urban and rural citizens.


Claire Short, Management Board of the Cities Alliance, recognized recent achievements to integrate the role of cities in the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, emphasizing that the relationship among national, local and regional governments must shift from hierarchies to partnerships. She called for partnerships to “get out of the meeting rooms and onto the ground” to implement declarations and deliver benefits to all, including the urban poor.

Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, stressed that the New Urban Agenda must combat social segregation. He remembered the Arab Spring, occurring, to a large extent, due to inadequate social conditions of citizens in Tunis, Tunisia, to illustrate how human dignity and livelihoods are essential means to ensure sustainable cities.

Kadir Topbaş, UCLG President and Mayor of Istanbul, highlighted that migration creates new challenges for cities, emphasizing the need to adequately prepare for refugees’ arrival. He emphasized that citizens need to get involved in developing a peaceful world and not wait for their governments.

Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogotá, explored how infrastructure and elements of democracy can influence happiness. He explained that “cities are a medium to express a way of life,” and that we can design the way we want to live by promoting participatory democracy based on equity.


The permanent working platform on co-creating the city is dedicated to the right to the city and aims at creating an implementation guide for strategies, based on practices and experiences that civil society is pursuing in cities.

RIGHT TO THE SUSTAINABLE CITY: This session of the permanent working platform highlighted examples of how civil society is co-creating sustainable cities. Pablo Benson-Silva, Occupy-NY, outlined the role of the Occupy Movement in recovering from Hurricane Sandy, as the movement was the first organization on the ground post-disaster. Pedro Bravo, writer, outlined how sustainable mobility organizations in Madrid are increasing electoral participation. Héctor Huerga, activist, said citizens are reclaiming Barcelona, Spain, through the conversion of its streets from vehicle traffic to pedestrian zones. Referring to threat of eviction that the Roma people faced in Belgrade, Serbia, Bahram Ghazi, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), highlighted a project that helped uphold the Roma people’s rights by increasing their direct involvement.

RIGHT TO THE LIVING CITY: This session continued the work of the permanent working platform, including participants through Google Hangout. Pierre Arnold, activist, outlined that the occupation of Place de la République in Paris, France, created a space of creativity, dialogue and discussion. Ana Estela Haddad, São Paolo, Brazil, said the city’s masterplan aims at giving the city back to its people through increased investment in social housing, public transportation and organic farming, among other initiatives. Lorena Zárate, Habitat International Coalition, said current policies are generating “dead cities” through both public and private money. Zárate emphasized the need to protect self-managed or self-built living spaces, often denounced as “marginal,” “irregular” or “illegal.” Mike Bird, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, highlighted that the “real” economy in cities is actually in the informal economy - an integral part of a living city.


Hélène Papper, the UN Information Centre for Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, introduced discussions aimed at moving towards a greater democratic, transparent and participatory debate on cities. Josep Roig, UCLG Secretary-General, underscored the importance of communications to help implement ideas from a global and local level. Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, raised questions on how to engage citizens through the media, explaining “good urbanization is not achieved at random” and requires negotiations of varied agendas.

 Neal Peirce, Citiscope, invited participants to stay engaged with Citiscope post-Habitat III to see how cities of the world react and adapt to the recommendations and outcomes. Fernando Casado, Towards the Human City, Seres Urbanos, El País, introduced his initiative to gather over 500 interviews from over 27 cities collecting positive stories, concluding that to engage citizens, stories should be human centered, bridging impact to human life, and entertaining.

Jeanneth Cervantes, Radialistas Community Radio, Ecuador, illustrated how media creates constructive messages to promote change by helping citizens realize their power.

Jennifer Lenhart, urban blogger with Guardian Cities, shared perspectives from informal communication in her blog ‘The Urban Observer,’ aimed at sharing examples of urban sustainability from a personal standpoint.

Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malick, Mayor of Tevrah-Zeina, Mauritania, outlined local efforts to improve policies for local citizens, saying, “without communication and professional journalists, development is not possible.”

In the ensuing discussion, participants asked panelists about strategies to, inter alia: represent a voice for all; overcome corruption; support and strengthen policies that advocate for human rights; and create a global alliance for journalists.


THE CONTRIBUTION OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT TO THE COMPETITIVENESS OF CITIES: Mircea Steriu, International Association of Public Transport (UITP), presented research on three aspects to a competitive city: economic strength, human capital and physical capital. Stressing that public transportation is an investment, not a cost, he underlined that it induces higher density of jobs and creates high-growth clusters. Steriu also noted it facilitates access to education and diverse, higher-paying jobs, quadruples the rate of urban regeneration, and boosts physical activity and health.

David Lucas, Spanish Federation and Mayor of Móstoles, Spain, described how three systems of transportation are interconnected and coordinated in the community of Madrid, allowing better movement of workers and goods and bringing more businesses to the region.

Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany, noted that while the automobile has been in the city’s DNA since its origins, Mannheim is overcoming this, for example, through plans to introduce electric buses with inductive charging to lower noise, particulate matter and climate pollution.

CITIES – THE FUTURE OF HUMANE, EVIDENCE-BASED AND EFFECTIVE DRUG POLICIES: César Gaviria, Global Commission on Drug Policy and Former President of Colombia emphasized the importance of evidence-based policymaking focusing on less violence, protecting human rights, decriminalizing consumption and improving security.

Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen, lamented that cannabis production is contributing to the loss of traditional agricultural knowledge in the north of Morocco. Noting that a miniscule amount of the income from drug trafficking ends up with the cultivators, he called for international support for pilot projects to raise the value of local traditional products.

Raymond Louie, Acting Mayor of Vancouver, Canada, described Vancouver’s comprehensive drug policy comprising four pillars: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement.

Fabiana Goyeneche, Montevideo, Uruguay, described outreach programmes that target younger citizens by discouraging them from drug consumption but providing information on risks and healthcare. She said the city has reduced the cost of emergency services, by providing on-site service tents with fruit, hydration, psychological assistance and medical personnel at mass events.

Émile Nakombo, Mayor of Bangui, Central African Republic, advocated addressing drug abuse at the smallest cells of society, so that family members, friends and neighborhoods can care for drug users.

Pavel Bém, Global Commission on Drug Policy and Former Mayor of Prague, Czech Republic, said Prague implemented programmes to provide syringes and needles, HIV and hepatitis testing, and social care services, resulting in more than 80% of drug users being in contact with services.

MIGRATION AND MOBILITY: Josep Sagarra, Catalonian Fund for Cooperation and Development and Presidency of UCLG Working Group on Migration and Co-Development, introduced the session as one that would focus especially on the positive effects of migration.

Fatma Şahin, Mayor of Gaziantep, Turkey, highlighted her city’s approach in the face of the Syrian refugee crisis noting a focus on education and peace for children and providing equal access to municipal services for all refugees and the city’s citizens.

Speaking on cities that are attractive to migrants as engines of economic growth, Marcelo Pisani, International Organization for Migration (IOM), outlined instruments, such as the Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF) and Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MCIC), that support local authorities with migration, adhering to international regulations and maintenance of respect for human rights.

Dolors Sabater Puig, Mayor of Badalona, Spain, spoke in favor of integration and peaceful co-existence, suggesting policies that encourage contact and relationships in order to ease the tendency to blame immigration for all the problems a citizen may be facing.

Guillermo Herrera, Carchi, Ecuador, demonstrated how local governments from Ecuador and Colombia have created a brotherhood for subnational integration to jointly address migration and human mobility to create positive impacts in both countries.

SHAPING THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENDAS – THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN EFFECTIVE DEVELOPMENT: Ton Rombouts, Mayor of Den Bosch, the Netherlands, presented a policy brief titled ‘Development Effectiveness and Local Governments.’ Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, Canada, outlined his work as the UCLG Champion on Development Cooperation and said cities and local governments are capable of transforming the broad parameters of the SDGs into more local and efficient goals.

Ciro Pérez Silva, Mexican Embassy to Colombia, outlined Mexico’s efforts to increase effective development cooperation. Boubacar Bah–Bill, Mayor Commune V, Bamako, Mali, outlined efforts and challenges of municipalities in Mali in localizing the SDGs and noted that decentralization has enabled municipalities to negotiate and manage programs funded by international partners.

Karina Cáceres, Alianza de las Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil para la Eficacia del Desarrollo en América Latina y el Caribe, said civil society organizations (CSOs) can provide services that States do not, while increasing accountability and transparency.

A SEAT AT THE GLOBAL TABLE – LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AS DECISION MAKERS IN WORLD AFFAIRS: Showcasing the project ‘A seat at the global table: Local governments as decision-makers in world affairs,’ funded by the European Union (EU), panelists debated the process for building an action plan for raising the voices of local authorities within the New Urban Agenda negotiations. Some participants underscored small advancements, such as improvements in credential practices for local governments at the UN, to illustrate changes in decision making at the “global table.” Organizers explained that an Action Plan, an outcome of this project, will be presented on the occasion of the third session of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments, to be held on 16 October 2016. A participant cautioned that gender equality and youth engagement are lacking as part of this plan.

Emilia Saiz, UCLG, called for the reinforcement of the political power of local authorities, adding that local authorities should be the first to recognize the New Urban Agenda. The session concluded stressing the ultimate goal of the group to ensure the recognition of the “irreversible internationalization of local governments” in the New Urban Agenda.


INCLUSIVE AND TRANSPARENT CITY DEVELOPMENT – TO SHARE SEOUL’S POLICIES AND BEST PRACTICES: Ji-Eun Kin, Seoul Metropolitan Government, stressed the vitality of a bottom-up planning approach to allow citizens’ participation in decision making. He recalled Seoul’s challenge of population loss and described new plans to provide more affordable housing with less public money, such as the 2030 housing project for young citizens: ‘Public Housing around Transit Nodes.’

Joonho Ko, Seoul Institute, focused on bus reform and the reduction of transport time for citizens in Seoul, which were possible, for instance, through changes in bus stops and fare collection methods. He stressed the importance of removing barriers for public transportation, such as better elevators and escalators that can improve accessibility.

Blanca Cardona, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Seoul Policy Centre and Seoul Metropolitan Infrastructure Headquarters, highlighted the importance of transparency and anti-corruption policies to rebuild Seoul following civil war. She noted some key components of these policies, such as: a project management system; an automated subcontractor payment system; and electronic human resources management.

CULTURE 21 LAB – OPERATIONALIZING CULTURE IN SUSTAINABLE CITIES: Jordi Baltà, Agenda 21, and Lucina Jiménez, El Consorcio Internacional Arte y Escuela A.C. (ConArte), Mexico, moderated the session, underscoring the strategic role of culture for urban sustainability. Several panelists representing cities from Latin America, Asia, Canada and Europe debated why culture should be prioritized in cities as a tool to promote sustainability.

Participants argued that culture is a manner to articulate several strategic priorities, including economic development. On challenges, they mentioned the difficulties to coordinate and convince all sectors of public administration that culture is relevant for sustainable development and added that cultural policies have been evolving mostly in silos. However, panelists showed how the Culture 21 Programme has been a concrete manner to share lessons on these synergies, creating new avenues for local and global cooperation. The session also described projects on inclusiveness that can improve public security, for example through the expansion of art spaces, and emphasized the importance of citizens’ engagement in cultural policies to ensure ownership.

THE LANCET SERIES ON URBAN DESIGN, TRANSPORT AND POPULATION HEALTH: Thiago Hérick de Sá, University of São Paulo, focused on the effects of transport and land use for health in cities. He underscored the importance of governance for coping with these challenges and identified risk exposures, such as traffic, air pollution, social isolation and mental diseases.

James Sallis, University of California, underscored several diseases that are growing because of unsustainable transport systems. He described studies on the health consequences of transport modes and land use in Boston, London, Melbourne, Delhi, São Paulo and Copenhagen and noted that high levels of carbon emissions bring huge health risks. He concluded by calling for a radical shift towards public transport systems.

Mark Stevenson, University of Melbourne, identified two audiences for The Lancet papers: decision makers and scientists. He focused on how to improve research that can reach decision makers. He suggested: policy-relevant research; improved communication with policymakers; enhanced advocacy among scientists; greater mobilization of public opinion; and clarification of costs and cost-effectiveness for authorities.


STRONGER, MORE ACCOUNTABLE LOCAL AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENTS: Gültan Kışanak, Mayor of Diyarbakır, Turkey, said each of the 102 members of the Union of Southeastern Anatolia Region Municipalities has two Mayors, one male and one female, and aims for 50% of Council members to be female.

Greg Munro, Commonwealth Local Government Forum, highlighted examples of participation such as a mayor’s listening tour and an educational program to increase understanding of local budgets.

Maureen Friar, Huairou Commission, outlined the Commission’s work on providing a gender lens on Habitat II, and now Habitat III, and its groundwork on advocacy, land rights, governance, and disaster and climate change resilience.

Dirk Schwenzfeier, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, outlined Germany’s two-leveled decentralized local democracy and highlighted the example of Cologne, Germany, which included citizens in planning the city budget.

Maria Fare, UN SDG Action Campaign, outlined a 2014 survey called ‘My World,’ which got 10 million responses and helped influence the 2030 Agenda. She announced plans for a similar ‘My City’ survey, as it is now time for implementation of the SDGs.


INTERMEDIARY CITIES: Brian Roberts, Urban Frontiers, highlighted the role of intermediary cities, which are often neglected as focus shifts to metropolitan cities.

Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen, Morocco, and Edgardo Pamintuan, League of Cities of the Philippines, raised points on the value of participation, sharing examples from national processes to calibrate the concerns of all inhabitants. Marcelo Cabrera, Mayor of Cuenca, Ecuador, added the importance of engaging the universities to promote public well-being.

Jantine Kriens, Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), provided examples of how Dutch intermediary cities work together to improve the economy and address challenges such as providing shelter for refugees.

Ahmad Kamareddine, Mayor of Tripoli, Lebanon, revealed challenges in recovering from internal fighting, identifying the methods used to overcome financing needs.

Vladimir Azevedo, Mayor of Divinópolis, Brazil, drew attention to the value of bringing mayors together to address governance challenges.

Nassénéba Touré, Mayor of Oudienné, Ivory Coast, showcased efforts in her region to rehabilitate infrastructure, promote public-private partnerships, attract investments and develop South-South and triangular partnerships.

In ensuing discussions, panelists addressed: cultural integration; economic, social and environmental dimensions of intermediary cities; competition between displaced local populations and refugees; and linkages to international agendas such as the SDGs.