ON THE MOVE
The annual United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Retreat, held in Barcelona, Spain, from 20 to 24 February 2023, brought together over 300 participants from all over the world. Since its inception in 2015, this week-long gathering has provided a platform for the UCLG ecosystem, including its World Secretariat, Presidency, Sections, Committees, Working Groups, civil society, media, and other partners, to develop a unified work plan for the year ahead. Now, seven years later, the Retreat has become a must-attend event for political leaders and technical staff to brainstorm, share ideas, and advance towards recognising local perspectives and territorial development to face global challenges.
The UCLG Secretary-General, Emilia Saiz, refers to the Retreat as the “kitchen” of the organisation, where “recipes” and “menus” are discussed, and “friends” are invited to be part of the process.
The municipal movement’s origins date back to 1913, when the Union Internationale des Villes (UIV) was established in Ghent, Belgium. In 2004, the UCLG we know today was redefined with a clear vision of unifying the local movement. In 2013, UCLG took a step further by leading the creation of the Global Taskforce for Local and Regional Governments to maximise their influence and role in the global agendas being adopted between 2015-2016.
The Pact for the Future of Humanity, unanimously adopted by the UCLG World Congress in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, in October 2022, outlines the collective commitment of the municipal movement towards a new cycle of multilateral processes and key decisions. It articulates the principles of the Power of We, which will guide the movement’s political direction towards the SDG Summit of 2023 and the United Nations Summit of the Future in 2024.
The Pact is a declaration deeply embedded in the complexity and urgency of the times. It is based on the reality that local and regional governments work daily, serving the people, caring for them, and ensuring service provision for everyone and in every place.The Retreat showcased the strength of the feminist, human rights-based, green, peaceful, committed, and transformative global municipal movement. Participants worked together to unpack the Pact and propose high-impact partnerships, which marks the opening move of UCLG at the multilateral table in this crucial year of 2023.