UNACLA was established by the Governing Council Resolution 17/18 of 1999 as an advisory body that would serve the purpose of strengthening the dialogue of the UN System with local authorities from all over the world involved in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. Within the years, the Committee has established itself as a representational body of the main local government networks with their purpose to bring their voice and perspectives to the United Nations System and to contribute to the implementation of the main global agendas in their local dimension.
UNACLA is supported by UN-Habitat and UCLG, United Cities and Local Governments, the major world organization gathering local governments and their national and regional associations. UNACLA works on a representative manner, its members bringing the consensus position previously adopted by the respective networks. The organizations member of UNACLA represent around 323.000 institutions at all scales, from small towns, to local authorities in small island states, to intermediate cities and big metropolis.
The main purpose of UNACLA today is to bring together local governments close to the newly established global agendas, making them more aware of their important role to achieve sustainable development, The new development agendas cannot be possible without the establishment of wide partnerships, including the contribution of all levels of governments, social and economic stakeholders and the citizens that these institutions are here to serve.
- Membership: 20 members in total. 10 members will represent the regional sections of UCLG as well as its regional and metropolitan sections. The remaining 10 members will be appointed within the membership of the Global Taskforce of local and regional governments as well as the remaining most representative networks.
- Reporting– UNACLA Secretariat, in consultation with its members, will make a yearly report to the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, who will take its recommendations into account within the biannual reporting to the UN Secretary-General and to the UN-Habitat Governing Council.
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History of UNACLA
In 1999, the ancestor of UN-Habitat, the then called UN Commission on Human Settlements, noted with satisfaction the important contribution made by local authorities around the world in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, including the effective partnerships established between UN-Habitat, Member States and local governments in the design, adoption, and implementation of local plans of action inspired by the Habitat Agenda as well as by the Agenda 21 issued from Rio in 1992.
The Commission Governing Council approved in 1999 its resolution 17/18, asking the Executive Director “to establish a committee of local authorities as an advisory body that would serve the purpose of strengthening the dialogue with local authorities from all over the world involved in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.” It also recognized the urgent need to accelerate international regional and national progress in the adoption of policy measures aimed at strengthening cooperation between central and local governments.
The inaugural meeting of the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authority (UNACLA) was convened on 23th January 2000, hosted by the City of Venice in Italy. In accordance with Resolution 17/18, invitees represented a wide spectrum of local authority leaders and global and regional associations of cities and local authorities. The meeting’s agenda included the constitution of the Committee and the adoption of its rules of procedure. The results of the meeting are summarized in the Venice Declaration.
In 2003, UNACLA was invited to contribute to and participate in international dialogues on issues related to effective decentralization and the strengthening of local authorities, including principles and legal frameworks in support of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The result of this process was the approval of the “International Guidelines on Decentralization and Strengthening of Local Authorities”, approved by the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT on 20 April 2007. The guidelines are a key instrument to promote good governance at all levels, intending to guide policy and institutional reform at the national level to further enable local authorities to improve their capacity to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals.
In year 2004, IULA and FMCU, the two major federation of local governments existing in that time, decided to reunite by forming a new World organization called United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). Launched in Paris with the biggest gathering ever of mayors, councilors and elected representatives, the new body established a new era of cooperation in promoting local action to achieve global goals. Conceived as a federation of federations, UCLG is the most representative local and regional association, as it aggregates the different regional sections of Africa (UCLG-Africa), Europe (CEMR), Latin America and Caribbean (FLACMA), North America (NORAM), Euroasia, Middle East and West Asia (MEWA) and Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC). UCLG become the main partner for UNACLA and a new counterpart to implement the increasing activities of the global agenda.
In 2005, UNACLA became active in the negotiation process resulting in the elaboration of the International Guidelines on Access to Basic Services for All, approved by the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT on 3 April 2009. The document constitutes a broad framework to guide national policy reforms in the provision of basic services which are prerequisites in achieving human dignity, quality of life and sustainable livelihoods.
Coinciding with the UN-Habitat Governing Council of April 2011, UNACLA adopted a number of decisions, including the exchange of knowledge over thematic issues within its annual work plan.
Year 2012 was also particularly important as local governments networks participated in the UN Conference on sustainable development (Rio +20), the experience of coordinating agendas in the occasion helped to create the Global Taskforce of local and regional governments for the post-2015 development agenda and towards Habitat III (GTF). The establishment of the Global Taskforce has been instrumental to increase the presence of the local authorities during the SDG negotiation. The GTF coordinates the activities and agendas of mayors, and other local representatives during the main UN Conferences, bringing the message of the constituency in a representative way, rather than nominally. The GTF gathers all main local government networks and its partners. More information can be found at www.gtf2016.org
In September 2015, in concomitance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, UNACLA decided to renew its structure and transform its membership to all the major networks. The actual structure reflects the membership of the Global Taskforce, includes the major regional and thematic networks and transforms fully from nominal membership to assign a representational seat to one of each of the major local government networks of the world.
In 2016, UNACLA has contributed to the organization in Quito of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments, and it issued the Declaration of Quito on the occasion of Habitat III.