Highlights and images of main proceedings for 12 February 2021

The Policy Council on “Implementation of the New Urban Agenda” convened on Friday, 12 February. The Council is co-chaired by: Carlos Martínez Mínguez, Mayor of Soria, Spain, and Envoy of the UCLG Presidency on the New Urban Agenda (NUA); Ilsur Metshin, President of the United Nations Advisory Committee for Local Authorities (UNACLA); and Thembisile Nkadimeng, Mayor of Polokwane, South Africa, President of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), and UCLG Co-President.

UCLG Secretary-General Emilia Sáiz opened the meeting, recalling the creation of this Policy Council is one of the key outcomes of the November 2020 UCLG World Council meeting. She emphasized the urban era is not just about big cities, but territoriality in all its aspects, including intermediary cities and the urban-rural continuum. It is about “leaving no one… and no place… behind” she said.

UCLG Secretary-General Emilia Sáiz

Co-Chair Metshin delineated the role of UNACLA as a liaison platform for strengthening the dialogue between local authorities and the UN system in relation to the NUA. He recalled the next UN Secretary-General report on progress made in implementing the NUA is due in 2022 and encouraged local authorities and UCLG to actively participate in the preparation of national reports to inform it.

Co-Chair Martínez Mínguez said territorial perspectives should guide NUA implementation, noting the role of small and medium-sized cities in the energy transition. He called for creating a mechanism for citizen participation in the work of UCLG.  

Co-Chair Nkadimeng underscored the need to foster inclusive local service provision and ensure accessibility for women.

Elkin Velásquez, UN-Habitat, said much related to the NUA implementation review occurs at the regional level. In relation to the SDGs, he encouraged local authorities to conduct Voluntary Local Reviews as a means to better feed local perspectives into Voluntary National Reviews. “We need to think long term while acting in the short term” he said. He called for leveraging the new openness for innovation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elkin Velásquez, UN-Habitat

Key points raised during the discussion included:

  • the pandemic has boosted centralization of power, and local governments must be better engaged in developing recovery packages;
  • seizing the momentum for change brought about by the pandemic to radically change unsustainable systems;
  • using stakeholder consultations to co-create plans for achieving transformational change, and engaging young people in the process; and
  • disaggregating data, among others, between cities and rural areas, as well as by gender, age, and race, to ensure no one is left behind and to allow for better assessments of policy effectiveness.

Closing the session, Secretary-General Sáiz noted many speakers pointed to the Policy Council on “Territorial Multilevel Governance and Sustainable Financing” as a group to exchange with. She shared her intention to bring the different Policy Councils together to help shape UCLG’s inputs to the NUA review.

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Cities