United Cities and Local Governments: Local and Regional Governments at the Heart of Localization

United Cities and Local Governments: Local and Regional Governments at the Heart of Localization

Local and Regional Governments at the Heart of Localization.

The presence of local and regional governments before the UN is not new. Local and regional governments have, of course, been present at the HLPF in previous iterations, and we have already held dialogues with national governments. The true novelty of the 2018 High Level Political Forum is that, for the first time –and hopefully the first of many- local and regional governments have been a part of the political instrument of the UN which evaluates the progress of their member states to achieve Agenda 2030.

The 2030 Agenda is designed by states (and thus carries within it many of their biases), but it also proves to be a temple for multilateral action, for the development of human rights, and for being able to carry out collective decisions. This is why we came to the UN as an organized constituency, simply because we believe that local and regional governments can and need to be involved in the agendas beyond their stage of implementation.

Local and regional governments, part and parcel of achieving the global goals at the High Level Political Forum.

Together with the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs (UNDESA), UN-Habitat and the Local 2030 Network, The Global Taskforce of local and Regional Governments organized the first Local and Regional Governments’ Forum. Some of the more pressing issues for local and regional governments such as multi-level governance and dialogue between different spheres of government, and especially the role that local and regional governments play in breathing life into these global agendas at the local level.

The Local 2030 Special Event, held by the Local2030 coalition in collaboration with the GTF, sought to bring together experts from the public, private non-governmental sectors, together with local leaders and representatives from United Nations agencies, to present local-level actions at the HLPF.

The sessions centered on key areas such as raising awareness and building the capacities of local and regional governments in order to respond to crises, accessing data and financing to better answer the needs of citizens, and even on how to articulate responses and mitigate climate change from the local level.

A sentiment that was shared throughout both of the sessions’ panels was the need to place people at the centre of the development agenda. This is why the right to housing, or the need to feminize politics and ensure that the views of women are represented, were a part of the panels in the LRGF and the Local2030 Special Event

The GTF and the Global Observatory on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD) presented the report on the Local and Regional Governments’ constituency on the localization of the SDGs, “Towards the Localization of the SDGs” for the second year in a row.

The Report aims to complement the information that member states provide to the HLPF through the Voluntary National Reviews and, in it, the GTF advances a set of recommendations to increase the centrality of LRGs in the reporting and implementing process. Local and regional governments need to move forward in awareness raising, have a stronger implication in the VNRs, build a constructive self-assessment on local implementation policies, and develop better peer-to-peer knowledge and practice exchanges.

Bringing the right to adequate housing to the HLPF

In spite of being the sphere of government closest to the citizens, local and regional governments are often unable to meet their demands. In areas such as housing, the lack of funding and regulation makes addressing speculation and the commodification of housing an even bigger (?) challenge for local and regional governments, and makes it even more difficult for citizens to access housing.

Drafted by the City of Barcelona, the “Cities for Adequate Housing Municipalist Declaration of Local Governments on the Right to Housing and the Right to the City" was brought to the HLPF under the mantle of the “The Shift” campaign. The manifesto is, as mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau reminded, a starting point towards articulating a response to the global housing challenges and its goal is, fundamentally, to involve cities in the struggle for adequate housing. If the right to housing is to become an effective right, legislations need to acknowledge it as such, and local and regional governments need to have the resources to put it into practice.

As of now, the Manifesto has been endorsed by Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Mexico City, Durban, Lisbon, London, Montreal, Montevideo, New York, Paris, and Seoul, as well as metropolitan entities such as Plaine Commune, Greater Manchester the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. Other cities, such as Strasbourg and Madrid, are in talks to approve it in their municipal parliaments.

Article by United Cities and Local Governments Communication
Photo Credits: Joel Sheakoski (CC) , Pexels (CC)