16 October 2016

Role of Local, Regional Authorities ‘Growing by the Year’, Secretary-General Says in Remarks to Second World Assembly

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments in Quito today:

Es un gran placer para mi estar aqui con todos ustedes.  Many thanks to the Mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas, for hosting us today.

In the 20 years since your first meeting at Habitat II in Istanbul, we have come a long way.  Many countries have undergone profound change.  There is a widely recognized need to support and empower local and regional governments.  Decentralization, and the devolution of roles and responsibilities to local and regional authorities, is an important trend.  Local and regional governments are now seen as key partners for national Governments to implement their development and economic programmes.

Many Governments have taken on the principle of subsidiarity.  That has required them to strengthen the capacity of local and regional governments, so that decisions can be taken at the most local or immediate level possible.  In short, your role is growing by the year.  Elected officials, mayors, governors and councillors are at the forefront of the battle for sustainable development.  You are faced with the immediate daily demands of your people:  for housing, transport, infrastructure and basic services.  And you must make the tough decisions on which issues to prioritize — because you have to manage budgets and balance sheets.  You are accountable to national Governments and in many cases to your local voters, too.  Your inputs into the New Urban Agenda were invaluable, gathered thanks partly to the informal hearings held for the first time between local authorities and Member States.

Twenty years ago, Habitat II called for the creation of a permanent mechanism to coordinate the partnership between the United Nations and local and regional governments.  Two bodies emerged from that:  the United Cities and Local Governments; and the United Nations Advisory Committee on Local Authorities.  These have worked to implement global agendas at the local level and to promote cooperation and information exchange between cities.

Twenty years on, Habitat III will strengthen this coordination and partnership.  This will be more vital than ever as we move towards implementing both the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to make human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

I thank you for your engagement, and urge you to continue to raise your voices.  Take ownership of this vital agenda.  Stand up for the people you represent.  Help to create the towns and cities of the future.

I wish you fruitful discussions and success, as you strive to make our cities and towns into places of sustainable urban development, inclusivity and opportunity for all.

Muchas gracias por sus esfuerzos en construir un futuro más sostenible para todos.

For information media. Not an official record.