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The Paradox of a Global Urban Agenda Led by Nations, Not Cities

Why mayors and other leaders from 500 cities released a manifesto at the UN’s Habitat III summit in Quito.
The Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments brought mayors and other city leaders together in Quito, Ecuador.
The Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments brought mayors and other city leaders together in Quito, Ecuador.UCLG

As the prevailing wisdom goes, the battle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities. Yet as nations gather this week at the UN’s Habitat III conference to discuss solutions for a rapidly urbanizing world, missing are the voices of the individuals and groups who actually run those cities. So argues a 10-point manifesto that resulted from a convening of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Governments on Sunday.

Mayors and other leaders from more than 500 cities gathered in Quito, Ecuador, over the weekend to form a collective voice calling for “A Seat at the Global Table.” Their manifesto lays out why local governments need to be integrated into international talks traditionally reserved for national policymakers. With support from key figures such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the assembly pushed for a “paradigm shift in global governance” that would give local leaders more say in what strategies to implement and how.