Urban Journalism Institute
Municipal Times Journal

A new partnership model for cities and civil society: The ‘Town Hall’ process

Leading up to the 2019 United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Congress World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders in Durban, the Town Hall was used as a key process used to place civil society partners in the driver’s seat and enabling co-creation.

It has become evident that the role of civil society organizations and stakeholders is instrumental for the development of better, more prosperous cities. UCLG recognized the crucial importance of collaboration between local governments and various global partners, and created the Town Hall process to deepen and encourage these partnerships. 

The Town Hall is an open space allowing for debates and discussions on the policy papers which touch on priority topics for all partners. The tagline #CitiesAreListening encapsulates the ambitious goal of city leaders to not only listen to partners’ policy proposals, but also to engage and include all stakeholders in decision-making processes. 

The 2022 edition of the Town Hall track at the Seventh Session of the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders and World Congress (World Summit) in Daejeon, Republic of Korea, aims to reinvigorate dialogue between local and regional governments with international civil society organizations and to strengthen collaboration. The process continues and builds on progress made in the Town Hall process in Durban through the three cross-cutting caucuses on youth, feminism, and accessibility. These cross-cutting issues are integrated throughout the 2022 Town Hall deliberations in an effort to ensure that no one and no place is left behind. 

Among topics included in this year’s discussion are culture and sustainable development, the future of tourism, access to public spaces, building healthy cities, and the increasing interlinkages between climate change and food systems. Core partners of the process – such as Global Platform for the Right to the City, the General Assembly of Partners, Cities Alliance and the Climate Heritage Network – bring forward new ways to think about timely topics such as the global commons, trust and government, caring systems, and climate and culture. These topics link to the foundational areas of the Pact for the Future (the outcome document of the 2022 Congress), to renew social contracts for people, for the planet, and for governments. 

The Town Hall process culminates in the presentation of Policy Papers on the main topics, which will later be considered by local governments as action points. These recommendations align with the aim to transform UCLG’s municipal movement and to include all stakeholders in the decision-making process and to showcase that cities are listening and stand ready to deliver on the Pact for the Future.