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Delivering sustainable development around the world  

Local and regional authorities present recommendations to the EU.

Local and regional authorities' representatives from almost 80 countries convened at the Cities and Regions for Development Cooperation forum on 4-5 February to discuss urban development challenges and ways to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals at the local and regional level. The forum will put forward policy recommendations to the EU on how best to respond to urbanisation while contributing to sustainable development.

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “Cities and regions play a crucial role for sustainable development, as they host half of the world's population today and will host over 65% by 2050. This urban increase will bring challenges, but also opportunities. Opportunities for people to ensure their access to food, decent housing, safety and jobs. We work closely with local and regional authorities and have dedicated an ambitious amount of €150 million to cities' partnerships, to improve the lives of millions of people around the world."

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, said: "The world will never overcome the global challenges of the 21st century without regions and cities. They are leading the fight against climate change, promoting social inclusion, driving innovation and working in partnership across borders. Only by strengthening their autonomy, offering the right long-term financial support and investing in territorial cooperation will local and regional authorities be able to take the reins and leave a sustainable future for the next generation."

Around 500 participants from the EU and developing countries gathered in Brussels on 4-5 February to discuss how local and regional partnerships can support sustainable urbanisation and local development. Organised by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, the forum replaces the former Assises of Decentralised Cooperation with a more participatory and results-oriented approach.

Local authorities from the EU and beyond met in thematic groups and discussed urban challenges in an interactive way.

As an outcome, policy recommendations were issued, which included: urban governance, women and youth empowerment the adoption of a territorial approach to local government, capacity building, domestic resource mobilisation, urban transport and mobility, waste management and the impact of climate change on territories.

EU representatives welcomed the participants' recommendations, and committed to take them into account in forthcoming actions to support local authorities.


The European Commission encourages cooperation among local authorities, supporting twinning activities, peer-to-peer learning and technical assistance. The overall dedicated budget amounts to over €150 million for the years 2018–20. In 2018, the European Commission launched the first call for proposals for an amount of €53 million and an additional one will be launched in October 2019 worth €100 million. The aim is to support local authorities to address urban challenges, through an integrated approach that covers good urban governance and green, resilient, prosperous and innovative cities.

The European Committee of the Regions promotes inter-regional cooperation in the EU's neighbourhood and, through the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP), provides a means to develop political dialogue and to bring concerns of local and regional authorities to the EU and the Union for the Mediterranean (Uf M). It also promotes city-to-city and region-to-region cooperation in Libya – through the Nicosia Initiative – and in Ukraine.

Together, the CoR and the European Commission host a portal for decentralised cooperation that brokers contact between cities and regions across the world that are looking for partners. Local and regional authorities currently have a chance to share their views on how to develop the portal by filling out a short survey.

As the Millennium Development Goals showed, translating goals into national development policies is not enough, as the final impact of such policies ultimately depends on the implementing and delivering institutions, which are usually at local or regional level. They have an active role to play in the achievement of the current Sustainable Development Goals, and these partnerships will help them deliver.

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