Local leaders’ voices must be heard
Cities and municipalities are key players in the path towards a sustainable world. They are the level of government closest to the people – places where citizens directly experience democracy and the implementation of political decisions. Local governments foster innovation and welcome collaboration with citizens, civil society, scientists and entrepreneurs. By swiftly adopting ambitious commitments and striving for transformative actions, thousands of local governments support each other in implementing the 2030 Agenda, Paris Climate Agreement and other global deals.
However, in its framework for action, cities are mostly bound to the given legal and regulatory framework of higher political levels and dependent on fiscal transfers. This imbalance between the increasing importance of cities, including for the preservation of democracy, and their limited possibilities of participating in decisive political processes needs to be solved. The Urban7 Group Alliance calls for a change in perspective. Too often, national policymakers view cities as objects of their policies and programmes. However, the transformative power of cities can only be harnessed if the global political system evolves into true multilevel governance. The urban perspective needs to be integrated in consultations of higher governmental levels, in international political processes and in the resulting communiqués. Only through a structured and continuous dialogue between local, national and global political actors – allowing mayors to exercise their mandate as democratically elected political representatives – can we face the global challenges of our time.
Multilevel cooperation starts at the local level and needs to be protected and strengthened in a global and international context. City diplomacy, i.e. international cooperation between cities, as well as the participation of cities in international decision-making mechanisms, holds considerable potential for achieving the goals of the G7 and the global multilateral system.