Local and regional authorities’ representatives from almost 80 countries have convened at the “Cities and Regions for Development Cooperation” forum to discuss urban development challenges and ways to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals at local and regional level.
European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “Cities and regions play a crucial role for sustainable development, as they host half of the world’s population today and will host over 65% by 2050. This urban increase will bring challenges, but also opportunities. Opportunities for people to ensure their access to food, decent housing, safety and jobs. We work closely with local and regional authorities and have dedicated an ambitious amount of €150 million to cities’ partnerships, to improve the lives of millions of people around the world”.
European Committee of the Regions President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, added: "The world will never overcome the global challenges of the 21st century without regions and cities. They are leading the fight against climate change, promoting social inclusion, driving innovation and working in partnership across borders. Only by strengthening their autonomy, offering the right long-term financial support and investing in territorial cooperation will local and regional authorities be able to take the reins and leave a sustainable future for the next generation."Around 500 participants from the EU and developing countries gathered in Brussels on 4th and 5th February to discuss how local and regional partnerships can support sustainable urbanisation and local development. Organised by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, the forum replaces the former Assises of Decentralised Cooperation with a more participatory and results-oriented approach.
Local authorities from the EU and beyond gathered in thematic groups and discussed urban challenges in an interactive way.
As an outcome, policy recommendations were issued, which included among others: urban governance, women and youth empowerment the adoption of a territorial approach to local government, capacity building, domestic resource mobilisation, urban transport and mobility, waste management and climate change impact on territories.
EU representatives welcomed the participants’ recommendations, and committed to take them into account in forthcoming actions to support local authorities.
The European Commission encourages cooperation among local authorities, supporting twinning activities, peer-to-peer learning and technical assistance. The overall dedicated budget amounts to over €150 million for the years 2018 – 2020. In 2018, the European Commission launched the first call for proposals for an amount of €53 million and an additional one will be launched in October 2019 worth €100 million. The aim is to support local authorities to address urban challenges, through an integrated approach that covers good urban governance and green, resilient, prosperous and innovative cities.
As the Millennium Development Goals showed, translating goals into national development policies is not enough, as the final impact of such policies ultimately depends on the implementing and delivering institutions, which are usually at local or regional level. They have an active role to play in the achievement of the current Sustainable Development Goals, and these partnerships will help them deliver.