Commonwealth Local Government Forum


CLGF Secretary-General Dr Carl Wright
May 2016

In October 2016, the international community will adopt a New Urban Agenda at the Habitat III Conference in Quito. The New Urban Agenda will make recommendations to guide urban development policy across the world for the coming decades.

CLGF is joining some 100 representatives of sub-national governments from around the world at UN Headquarters in New York for the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments and Habitat III, convened by the Global Task Force (GTF), to share our vision for the New Urban Agenda and call for our recommendations to be taken into account at Habitat III. To that end the GTF is launching a campaign to call on national leaders to listen to cities and territories #listen2cities.

CLGF Vice-chairperson Cllr Philip McPhee, CLGF Board member Hon Atarake Nataara, Minister of Internal Affairs and Social Development, Kiribati and myself will be part of the delegation, which includes many elected mayors and local leaders. Hon Nataara will welcome delegates at the opening session of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments on 15 May.

The Second World Assembly is the mechanism through which local and regional governments will make joint inputs to the Habitat III process. At this session in New York, the Assembly will agree on the initial Key Recommendations of Local and Regional Governments on the New Urban Agenda.

The Assembly will be followed by the Habitat III informal hearings with local authorities on 16-17 May. These hearings in New York offer an unprecedented opportunity for local and regional governments to make our voices heard on the global stage as these hearings are specifically for the local government sector, which I and others very much welcome.

The UN has formally recognised the recommendations of the Second World Assembly as our official input into the Habitat III process. However, only national governments have a seat at the table for the final negotiations. They are the ones will adopt the final New Urban Agenda, whereas the implementation with be down mostly to local and regional governments.

On the eve of the Assembly, local and regional governments are launching a social media campaign to call on national governments and the international community to listen to cities and territories and take into account the work that local governments, civil society organizations and social movements have already done on the New Urban Agenda.  We’re calling on national leaders to listen to cities and territories and to harness our collective experience and wisdom to ensure a New Urban Agenda that takes into account the proposals of the local and regional governments that will be responsible for implementing it on the ground: #listen2cities.

Local and regional governments are on the front line of dealing with the daily challenges of urban and territorial development. Through the Global Task Force, CLGF and its partners have been working together to share our knowledge, experience and perspectives and draw up joint recommendations for the Habitat III process.  CLGF is also taking a lead on sustainable cities through its recently created Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network (CSCN), which will meet again in London in July to look at future action and input into Habitat3.

We urge our members to support the #listen2ciites campaign and encourage their national government to do so too; otherwise the Agenda risks ending up as a declaration of good intentions with little real impact.

We invite our members and everyone who cares about cities and wants to include a local perspective in the New Urban Agenda to join the Global Task Force campaign on Twitter using #Listen2Cities and #Habitat3 and share your ideas, and follow CLGF on @clgf_news to keep up to date with developments.

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