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United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Council 2020

The Role of the International Municipal and Regional Movement in COVID Times

12-13 November 2020 | Online

Summary Highlights of the Meeting

Highlights for Friday, 13 November 2020

The final day of the UCLG World Council, held on the one-year anniversary of the UCLG World Congress 2019, focused on the COVID-19 recovery and the path forward in a post-COVID era. José Ribeiro, Mayor of Valongo, Portugal, stated “Hope is the strongest vaccine against fear,” which echoed the outlook of many participants as they discussed the important role local government will play in the transition to a just, equitable, resilient, sustainable post-COVID era.

  • José Ribeiro

The Policy Debate on Leading the Way to Recovery: Toward a New Pact for the Future discussed what recovery from COVID-19 means for cities and local governments, addressed what a post-COVID-19 recovery will look like and articulated what the key priorities are. Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, in a video message, called for putting local cities and government at the center of a sustainable, inclusive, resilient world for all. Panelists highlighted access to services to build resilient societies, collaboration among all spheres of government, and the role of environmental degradation on societal health.

  • Olivier De Schutter
  • Souad Ben Abderrahim

The Business Session of the UCLG World Council featured five segments: Welcome; Powering the Organization; UCLG Acting for the People; UCLG Acting for the Planet; and UCLG Acting for the Government. During the Welcome, participants addressed the steps that the UCLG World Congress 2019 had taken to strengthen UCLG and heard the report of the Presidency for 2020, which underscored UCLG’s role in, among others, advocating for local government on the global stage.

  • Mohamed Boudra

The Powering the Organization segment heard: updates on UCLG Consultation Mechanisms’ work plans; the 2021 Work Plan; composition and agenda of the UCLG Policy Councils for 2021; and the report of the Financial Management Committee.

The UCLG Acting for the People segment featured input from the Policy Councils, and discussed the 2020 Rome Charter on cultural rights and the #CitiesAreListening Experience: Towards a Global Pact, which provided a space for open dialogue on the transformative actions needed to “leave no one and no place behind.”

The UCLG Acting for the Planet segment deliberated on how to foster urban resilience, cities’ role in addressing global environmental challenges, and the opportunity COVID-19 has offered for local governments to improve the well-being of their citizens.

The segment on UCLG Acting for the Government segment reflected on the role of local government post-COVID, promoting a global dialogue that includes local voices, and local governments’ fundamental role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Ilsur Metshin

The UCLG World Council 2020, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, took place from 11-13 November 2020 and was hosted by the city of Guangzhou, China.

IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, will provide a summary report of the UCLG Executive Bureau and UCLG World Council on Sunday, November 15, 2020.

Images from the Meeting

Videos from the Meeting

Highlights for Thursday, 12 November 2020

Emilia Sáiz, UCLG Secretary General, presented a video at the opening of the UCLG World Council 2020.

“We are not talking about development and recovery, but about the future of our planet. Start building from the local level and put climate at the center.” With this statement, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, captured many of the sentiments echoed throughout the discussions held during the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Congress 2020. The Congress convened under the theme “The role of the International Municipal and Regional Movement in COVID times.” The Congress has been convened under the theme ““The role of the International Municipal and Regional Movement in COVID times.”

The High-Level Policy Dialogue on Ecological Transition in the context of post-COVID debated how global policy generation processes can adapt for the post-COVID era, including how to take the needs of the ecological transition into account. It also discussed local governments’ role in these processes, and possible synergies that could be achieved.

The policy debate on addressing inequalities in light of COVID-19 examined local governments’ role in creating equitable pathways for building back better post-COVID-19. Panelists lamented that COVID-19 had exacerbated existing inequalities, and said “radical change” will be needed to overcome these.

  • Antonio Vitorino
  • Paola Pabón

The UCLG Executive Bureau Business Session addressed the statutory and organizational issues that needed to be discussed during the World Congress. It featured three segments: Powering the Network; Looking Ahead: Tools to Contribute to Recovery; and Accelerating Priorities. Powering the Network heard reports back from the Committee on Statutory Affairs, the Financial Management Committee, and the Rome Executive Bureau. Participants noted that appointments to the policy councils must be mindful of the need for a balance between continuity and renewal, and the Financial Management Committee recommended establishing a solidarity fund.

  • Berry Vrbanovic

Looking Ahead: Tools to Contribute to Recovery discussed proposals for activities and priorities for the future work of UCLG. The Secretariat presented on the Local4Action HUBs and the renewal process of the UCLG strategic priorities, saying that is apparent that local government is has an important role post-COVID. Accelerating Priorities discussed the work of UCLG, which participants praised.

  • Emilia Sáiz

The recommendations from the Executive Bureau Business Session will be forwarded to the World Council for adoption.

The UCLG World Council 2020 is taking place virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from 11-13 November 2020 and is being hosted by the city of Guangzhou, China.

Images from the Meeting

Videos from the Session

UCLG Resources

IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage

IISD Resources