Habitat III Listens to the Voices of Local and Regional Governments

The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, took place in Quito between the 17 and 20 October, with the aim of developing the New Urban Agenda. 20 years after the last meeting in Istanbul, Habitat II, with an ever-quickly growing global level of urbanization and with more than the half of the world’s population living in cities, Habitat III has been one of the most relevant global summits on public policy and human development of 2016.

During the opening speeches, both the mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas, and the General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, highlighted the importance of linking the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda, through the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals. This went hand in hand with the growing relevance of municipal politics and policy, and its specific weight in the United Nations System. Although the Conference is mainly directed to State members, this time the voice of local and regional leaders has played a relevant role, with an important presence of mayors from all over the world. Mayors and regional leaders could celebrate the inclusion of their recommendations in the New Urban Agenda, thanks to their articulation through the international networks and multilateral organizations of local and regional governments such as United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).

The Decentralization and Local Self-Government Committee, represented by its president Mercè Conesa, who is also the president of Barcelona’s Regional Government, participated on the political dialogue about Urban Governance, Capacity and Institutional Development co-organized by the London School of Economics (LSE) and UCLG. During the dialogue, issues related to the implications of the New Urban Agenda on the management of local administrations and the decision-making processes were discussed. Moreover, president Conesa was also present at the presentation of the last Report on Descentralization and Local Democraciy (IV GOLD Report). ‘Co-Creating a Urban Future’, together with General Secretary of UCLG, Jospe Roig, the mayor on Montréal and president of Metropolis, Denis Coderre, the subdirector of the OECD’s Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development, Luis Mello, and the director of urban and territorial development of the World Bank and director of the African enter for Cities, Edgar Pieterse.

Finally, Ms. Conesa also took part on other side events, such as the session entitled “Beyond Basic Services: Re-thinking the values, functions and management of water in cities”, where the GWOPA (UN Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance) was also present, and the presentation of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.