Under the important theme, Changing Cities Are Driving Our World, the 2nd United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Congress took place over four days from October 28 through 31 at the beautiful city of Jeju, Korea.
To participate at the UCLG World Congress, approximately 2,000 attendants from 110 countries gathered in Jeju.
Participants strived to draw the feature of a better world through their heated discussion in plenary sessions of topics such as Citiesthe Future of Humanity; Addressing Climate Change; City Diplomacy: Local Governments Building Peace; and 2015: a Better World is Possible, Local Governments in a New Global Governance.
This year's 2nd UCLG World Congress included a variety of workshops too including Financing Urban Explosion: Local Authorities' Vision; Local Democracy, Participative Democracy: The key to social inclusion; Urban mobility: Adapting to the New Ways of Life and more.
During its Opening Ceremony held on October 29, Governor Kim Tae-hwan of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province welcomed participants by saying: "As the Indian politician Nehru once observed, the development and growth of local communities reflects the quiet revolution of mankind." He pointed out further: "Cities that do not dare to change will fall behind because mankind is undergoing this revolution at an ever-quicker rate."
UCLG presidents including Paco Moncayo Gallegos, Mayor of Quito, Ecuador, Bertrand Delanoe, Mayor of Paris, France, and Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Councillor of Tshwane, South Africa said: "We have a massive challenge ahead of us and it demands the pooled expertise, experience and enthusiasm of all UCLG's members and partners in Jeju to focus the international communities' attention on the exemplary performance and unquestionable potential of local governments in resolving problems affecting everyone."
Practical sessions aiming at finding concrete solutions for common problems and the workshops dealt with issues related to the daily management of local governments including promoting access to basic services, facilitating mobility, ensuring social inclusion, contingency planning for pandemics and many more.
For instance, the P1 session: Cities, the Future of Humanity; Addressing Climate Change was of the same opinion in that one of the main issues facing the cities of the world is the impact of climate change.
According to the Stern report on the Economics of Climate Change, 22 of the 55 largest cities in the world are seriously threatened by rising sea levels whereas others are likely to suffer from serious shortages of clean water.
UCLG, in collaboration with ICLEI, strove to bring together key partners such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement members to address the critical issue.
UCLG represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage, regardless of the size of the communities they serve. Headquartered in Barcelona (Spain), the organization's stated mission is to be the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government, promoting its values, objectives and interests, through cooperation between local governments, and within the wider international community.
Since its creation in May 2004, UCLG has worked tirelessly towards a formal advisory role for local governments within the United Nations. UCLG's efforts have been rewarded with some real milestone developments in its relations such as the adoption of the International Guidelines on Decentralization opening an important door towards an international reference framework and the recognition of the role of local governments in the Millennium Development agenda.
In conjunction with such a point, Elisabeth Gateau, Secretary General of UCLG praised: "During our first three years of work, we have succeeded in demonstrating to the international community the commitment of the world's mayors and local governments to working together and speaking with one voice in pursuit of improving the quality of life of the world's citizens."