Coverage Policy debate Local multilateralism and City Diplomacy: Linking the Local to the Global



The Policy Councils were created in 2017 with the aim of providing an opportunity for political representatives to participate in the Organization’s policymaking and to have their views raised before the UCLG’s governing bodies. They usually meet twice a year in the framework of the UCLG statutory meetings to bring forward initiatives, ideas and recommendations that enrich the policy ownership and the political debate within the Organization. 

During its first five years of existence, the Policy Councils introduced significant advances not only in the organization’s narrative – with substantive contributions to our agenda on the Right to the City or the New Urban Agenda, among others – but also in terms of innovative processes that have been key to the international positioning of the network, such as the UCLG Municipal Peace Talks. 

Where we are: The legacy of the Policy Council on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda, and the path towards Local Multilateralism

In the era of the Pact for the Future – Daejeon Political Declaration, the renewed mandate is setting up the next stage of the UCLG Policy Councils. The session opened with a moment to take stock of the work done by the Policy Council on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda to place the agenda at the centre of international action, and an acknowledgement of how far the policymaking of the organization has come with regards to the renewal of multilateralism. 

Mayor of Soria and UCLG Special Envoy for the New Urban Agenda Carlos Martínez facilitated the session, setting the stage for the new era of the Policy Council, and Fabrizio Rossi, Secretary General of CEMR, presented the legacy: from the prior work of the Policy Council, to the relationship of the Pact for the Future – Daejeon Political Declaration with the renewed work of the Council.

“We are in the equator to fulfil the SDGs, and are going through this chain of crises that pose increasingly important challenges that we have to overcome with courage, bravery and creativity. Having our own space in the global table is critical in order to be able to continue to address the development of solutions for the crisis.” Carlos Martínez, Mayor of Soria and UCLG Special Envoy for the New Urban Agenda.


From pact to Act: The Future Envisioning Exercises feeding the priorities of the renewed Policy Council 

Paola Pabón, Prefect of Pichincha, President of CONGOPE, and UCLG Vice President for the Forum of Regions presented the renewed priorities of the Policy Council, a brief roadmap that builds on the need to raise the voices of local communities at the international decision-making tables, as a prerequisite to achieving a renewed social contract, based on local democracy, subsidiarity, and a renewed relationship between multilateral institutions and the communities that local and regional governments represent.

“We will work towards the consolidation of a local-global coalition for a more inclusive multilateral system, and discuss ways to continue dialogue among all actors to enhance ownership of global agendas, trust-building and co-responsibility to ensure that the new multilateral system reflects the views of all people.” Paola Pabón, Prefect of Pichincha, President of CONGOPE, and UCLG Vice President for the Forum of RegionsThe Policy Council debate included a space for dialogue that built on the Future Envisioning Exercises, which are convened once a year to feed the priorities of the Policy Councils. The Agora segment of the Policy debate included the voices of Clare Hart, Vice-President, Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole; Gunn Marit Helgesen, Regional Councillor of Vestfold and Telemark, President of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR); Cristian Zamora, Mayor of Cuenca; Pieter Jeroense, Director VNG; Li Xiaoyan, Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs Office of Xi’an Municipality; and Francisco Mugaburu, Deputy Director of International Relations and Cooperation of UCCI.

Wrap-up: Collective commitments towards the Summit of the Future

The session wrapped up with a commitment to redouble advocacy efforts towards the United Nations, and to harness city diplomacy as the transformative diplomacy that will enable us to carry out the New Agenda for Peace, and contribute to put an end to the absence of peace that is looming all over the world. Municipal autonomy and subsidiarity were seen throughout the session as the key elements needed to unlock the financing of basic services at the local level; protecting the common goods and the wellbeing of the planet; and ultimately transforming the relationship between spheres of government and renewing trust between communities. In this sense, the policy debate will also contribute to the discussions of all of the renewed policy councils.