Intermediary Cities from around the world meet at the 2nd UCLG World Forum to draw the lines of a resilient post COVID world


From 5 to 8 October 2021, the UCLG World Forum of Intermediary Cities took place under the title ”Life Systems for a Resilient Future”,  hosted by the City of Kütahya, in line with the trends identified during the 1st World Forum and laid out in the Chefchaouen Declaration.

The concept of “life systems” as the interaction of urban, rural, natural systems, built, animal, vegetal and all elements that compose the territorial dimension and allows an integrated perspective from the city to its territory and hinterland. In this line, the 2nd Forum was conceived to draw the lines of a resilient post COVID world, integrating a territorial approach through the “life systems”, highlighting the unique role of intermediary cities and their power as a group to build an inclusive, healthy and sustainable future.

The World Forum has built on sinergies developed with the G20, who joined the World Forum as official partner. The G20 Development Ministers adopted a communiquè in Matera, June 2021, emphasizing the unique role of intermediary cities to accelerate the localization of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, thus contributing to develop a greater dialogue between cities and national governments, through the G20.

The event counted with more than 350 participants, from over 70 different cities, including local and regional government elected officials from all continents, representatives of the United Nations (UNEP, UN-Habitat, UNDP and UNESCO), the G20, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Water Council, international organizations, UCLG regional sections, as well as civil society organizations, who met physically and online, in virtual or hybrid formats.

During the 2nd Forum, the challenges faced by Intermediary Cities in the current crisis, the common solutions they offer to global issues, as well as the alternatives to unlock the potential of these cities in shaping a new future were discussed.

The first Climate Day raised the question of Climate Justice, as a key component for the definition of the post-COVID world. The perspectives on this issue offered by Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, and Martina Otto from UNEP, stipulating the need of a multilevel action as well as multi stakeholder action to ensure that all actors are embracing the efforts for a greener and inclusive world. Lucy Slack, Secretary General of CLGF and Lorenzo Ciccarese, head of the Area for Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation at the Italian Environment Protection Agency, on behalf of G20 Presidency, mentioned the “importance to raise the profile of intermediary cities by promoting them as centers of innovation, culture, heritage and prosperity, as well as by empowering inclusiveness and gender balance.

Official plenaries 

The Opening and Closing Plenaries allowed a political vision on the Intermediary Cities of the world. The participation of Marina Sereni, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, in representation of the G20 Presidency, manifested the relevance of bringing the Intermediary Cities at the heart of decentralization and cooperation efforts, to ensure a sustainable and resilient future world. This contribution was acknowledging the structured partnership built between UCLG and the G20 on the Intermediary Cities role in implementing the 2030 Agenda. 

Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Director of OECD Development Center and Khalid Safir, Wali, Director General of Territorial Communities, Ministry of the Interior, Kingdom of Morocco insisted on the key role of

Intermediary Cities when promoting a greener and inclusive Recovery. A point raised as well as by Qudsia Huda, from WHO Health Emergency Program. Doctor Alim Işık, Mayor of Kütahya and Mohamed Sefiani, President of the UCLG Forum of Intermediary Cities and Mayor of Chefchaouen highlighted the need to empower more the Intermediary Cities from their local potential and based on the mass of Cities they do represent in the world The role that they play as catalysers of inclusive, green and resilient development onto the territory is the key for a resilient future.  Madeleine Alfor, Mayor of Iriga and Treasurer of UCLG agreed with Greg Munro, Executive Director of Cities Alliance on the fact that the Intermediary Cities are a safeguard against Inequalities, in promoting greener jobs and a more connected world.

The hybrid day in Kutahya began officially with welcoming remarks of Mohamed Saadieh, President of the UCLG MEWA and President of Dannieh Municipalities, the UCLG Secretary General Emilia Saiz, as well as Birol Ekici, the Secretary General of the Union of Turkish Municipalities. This symbolic moment with virtual and in-person presence in Kutahya marked the beginning of a new stage for Intermediary Cities, towards the recovery and living in the world post-pandemic.

The closing ceremony saw also the participation of the President of UCLG Mohamed Boudra, and Marco Ricci, Chair of the Development Working Group of G20; Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director of UN-Habitat and; Mehmet Duman, Secretary General of UCLG-MEWA. 

Key outcomes of the UCLG World Forum of Intermediary Cities: pathways to Global Resilience

The general trends identified on the Forum for the world post COVID will be based on justice (climate justice, territorial water justice, reducing inequalities), in a caring world for the new models of development (in particular caring economies), and on the human dimension of the transformation to happen. We need a global governance for resilience through and from the territorial action, to allow all actors to join this global resilience action.

The World Forum made it clear that we need to continue defending the local resources, biodiversity and quality of life laying on the rural/urban systems, as well as providing access to basic services in their territories such as education, healthcare, and transport to all communities, regardless of origin in order to reduce inequalities and deliver a peaceful world. For this, the Intermediary Cities of the World commit to continue working as a network of networks and working in partnerships between UCLG World Fora to develop concrete actions on the following strategies: Intermediary cities for enhancing the human dimension of transformation; Intermediary cities for a society of care; and Intermediary Cities for climate justice.

The Forum adopted the Kütahya Declaration of Intermediary Cities of the World as the main outcome, as the base of the development of the roadmap.