Delegation of the Global Task Force meeting with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Photo credit: Global Taskforce

Delegation of the Global Task Force meeting with the UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos. Photo credit: Global Taskforce

Mayor Frank Cownie delivering ICLEI Statement at the UN General Assembly High Level Event Plenary. Photo credit: Global Taskforce

ICLEI representatives Mayor Frank Cownie, Mayor Maimunah Shariff and Yunus Arikan meeting with UCLG President Parks Tau. Photo credit: Global Taskforce

ICLEI gives input into UN reform

Mechanisms for implementing the New Urban Agenda were the focus of discussion on 5-6 September 2017 at a High Level Meeting at the United Nations in New York.

Agreed upon at the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016, the New Urban Agenda provides a set of principles for integrated sustainable urban and territorial development. A key contribution to the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New Urban Agenda is now undergoing a two-year process to decide on further mechanisms for its follow-up and review.

This review process features an independent report - released this past August - to assess and enhance effectiveness of UN-Habitat, whose stated mission has been to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development. Among other suggestions, the report proposes the establishment of UN-Urban, a new UN body or process designed to create synergy and collaboration on urban issues across UN agencies.

The two-day high level meeting on 5-6 September at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City considered proposals outlined in the report. As one of the lead networks of the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments involved in the process, ICLEI considers the report and the meeting important steps towards strengthening, improving and supporting a sustainable urban world shaped by all levels of government and a diversity of stakeholder groups. 

To strengthen this overall process, ICLEI is calling for:

  • Integrated sustainable urban and territorial development to be fully incorporated into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 
  • Engagement of all levels of government in all countries as well as representative networks as active partners in the assessment and development of these new UN bodies and structures.
  • Multilevel, multi-stakeholder implementation of the New Urban Agenda and strengthening of UN-Habitat to be formulated within the context of broader UN reform.
  • Inclusive governance structures that facilitate input from networks and all levels of government around the world in the deliberation and design of UN-wide coordination and mechanisms.
  • Monitoring and support by relevant stakeholders and partners in the urban community.

Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines, Iowa, USA and member of the ICLEI USA Board and the ICLEI Global Executive Committee represented ICLEI at these high level meetings as part of the delegation of the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments. As part of panel discussions, Mayor Cownie reminded the delegation that this new era of sustainable development in a renewed United Nations is the time to "seize the potential of all levels of governments to deliver services, mobilize resources, engage citizens, protect our common goods and transform our livelihoods.” 

He then called for the UN reform proposals to focus on how to involve of all levels of governments in the General Assembly, in all duty stations of the UN and with every resident country coordinator.

Mayor Cownie also represented ICLEI in bilateral meetings with the 71st President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thompson, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. In addition to his role as ICLEI leadership, Mayor Cownie is a member of the Executive Committee of the US Conference of Mayors, and is committed to conveying the results of these consultations to a broader network of US local leaders.

Yunus Arikan, ICLEI's Head of Global Policy and Advocacy stated that "These two days proved that the introduction of innovative models for engaging local and regional governments and their networks into the renewed United Nations framework is the only way to solve these complex debates among Member States and UN agencies on the future of the New Urban Agenda." Arikan participated at the meetings and delivered ICLEI positions at the Global TaskForce technical meetings and stakeholder consultations sessions.

More information:

High-level meeting on New Urban Agenda and UN-Habitat

Further documentation from the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments

Full text of ICLEI’s 10-point response to the independent panel report

Statements delivered by Member States, UN agencies and stakeholders at the meetings 

Mayor Cownie's speech on CityTalk USA or as a PDF

News article about the event by the Global Task Force

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