The 2021 United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Executive Bureau convened under the theme "Care at the heart of the local service provision for an inclusive recovery." Introducing the thematic discussion on a renewed role for local and regional governments in development cooperation, Emilia Sáiz, UCLG Secretary-General, reflected on the importance of local-to-local collaboration. She invited participants to reflect on the role of local government in development cooperation and the changes required to financing.
Participants shared examples of working directly with development partners. Güleç Selim Yücel, Head of Cultural and Social Affairs Department, Turkey, highlighted that localization and decentralization represent the new reality and that donors should be focusing on concessional loans to ensure countries can pursue their own development objectives. Mercedes Sánchez, Deputy Director of Cooperation, Spanish Federation of Municipalities & Provinces (FEMP), underscored FEMP’s interest in fostering multi-actor public-private partnerships at the local level. Xiaoyan Li, Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs Office, Xi’an, highlighted the importance of sharing development results and promoting local experiences, as well as ongoing cooperation and consultation.
In the subsequent discussion, participants stressed that local governments have been at the forefront in providing basic services to local populations and helping these populations survive the COVID-19 pandemic, including through providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to municipal workers. A participant noted that responding to COVID-19 has required some governments to "re-centralize" but underlined that this must not become the norm and that decentralization must remain a priority.
Some participants also discussed ways local governments can attract donor funding, such as: being accountable to donors and providing evidence of where funding is being spent; and aggregating projects to help overcome the barrier of local-level transactions or projects being too small for many donors.
In the thematic session, “From managing migration to a community-based approach to human mobility,” Salvatore Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa, Italy, introduced the proposed Lampedusa Charter on human mobility. He highlighted that the Charter is about respect for civil rights and citizenship for all human beings. Fabiana Goyeneche, Montevideo, stressed that migrant status should not be used to restrict people's rights but must instead be used to guarantee their rights. She called for a regional approach when representing migrant rights and underlined the need to "defend those who defend the rights of migrants."
In the discussion, participants shared ideas for additional inclusions in the draft Lampedusa Charter. Several drew attention to the need to change the narrative around migration, as well as doing away with bureaucratic barriers. Some stressed the need for migrants to have legal status, and access to labor markets. On legal status, the possibility of detaching citizenship from nationality was also raised.
Participants agreed to further consider the Charter, and to convene regional level consultations, before presenting the Charter to the UCLG Council in November 2021.
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