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Greg Munro, Town Hall on Caring Systems (Interview)

Greg Munro: Director, Cities Alliance

Greg Munro is the Director of Cities Alliance, a partnership hosted by UNOPS, which seeks to address the challenges of urban poverty and informality, particularly in secondary cities. Based in Brussels, Cities Alliance works globally as well as through country programmes. Before joining Cities Alliance in 2021, he served the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) in London as Secretary-General, supporting local democracy and decentralization in the 54 Commonwealth nations.

What is your view on the Town Hall process and its progress so far? Especially on your topic, caring systems?

We led the Caring Systems Town Hall Process, and it was very inclusive, broad stakeholder consultation including civil society. The consultation process was good. We then took it into a plenary at the Congress and got reflections from political and society leaders. Yesterday, we spoke to the General Assembly.

All these things feed into the Pact for the Future. This is my third Congress and the great strength I see in it is the awareness amongst local and regional government leaders that they are also global leaders and part of the multilateral system. They need to help heal and lead the world as part of the multilateral system. That’s the great strength of this congress.

This year, there is a particular energy. As the closest leaders to the people, local governments talked about a whole new ecosystem for local government, where there is a new social contract between local governments and communities. In caring systems, communities are enabled to take decisions on their own lives and not just be passive recipients. Local governments enable the marginalized and most vulnerable to take action and be included.

How do you see the Pact for the Future?

I think it’s great, I feel very good about it. Yesterday, I took a photograph of the whole assembly and sent it to my nephew. I told him, “This is the local government version of the United Nations, a version of the multilateral system, which is local government.” The Pact is putting local government politicians in a position where they are part of the multilateral system.

What are your main conclusions of the Congress?

It has been an amazing progress over the years. “The time has come for local government”, that’s the headline for this year. I think it is time for local governments to step up and be part of the global multilateral movement.

What are the next steps for your organization?

As Cities Alliance, we are not members of the UCLG. We work across the world serving poor people in cities. At UCLG, we want to bring the voice of the most vulnerable and most marginalized to the table. They must be central to anything that happens going forward, and that’s my role. We are always here because of that: We bring the urban poverty angle into these UCLG conferences, and we succeeded this year as well. One of the main things is we must build from the bottom up and we must include the most vulnerable and most marginalized.

“Caring Systems” is the Policy Paper which resulted from the Town Hall process, an space for dialogue between internationally organized civil society and the political leadership of the local and regional governments constituency. Cities Alliance is one of the leading organizations which presented the conclusions at the UCLG World Congress and Summit of World Leaders. The Town Hall process was also supported by Public Services International, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the Civil Society Action Committee and the Universal Health Coverage 2030. The final document is available here.