Historical step: the Advisory Group of the UN Secretary-General on Local and Regional Governments takes off
On 6 October, 2023, the long-awaited Advisory Group of the United Nations Secretary-General on Local and Regional Governments met for the first time in a hybrid manner.
The establishment of the Advisory Group, whose creation was proposed in Our Common Agenda, right after the 2023 SDG Summit and in the run-up to the 2024 Summit of the Future, represented a historical achievement in the process of building a structural engagement of the local and regional government constituency with the United Nations. The Advisory Group will inform the United Nations Secretary-General on local and regional governments’ dimensions in preparatory processes of the Summit of the Future.
With the Summit of the Future and the UN Pact for the Future identified by the UN Secretary-General as crucial levers to bring about a new multilateral system, the first meeting of the Advisory Group offered a platform of the highest level to share visions on how the multilateralism of the future must take shape and strengthen the spaces for the constituency.
The Advisory Group is composed of 20 members, 15 of whom are representatives of local and regional governments nominated by the city networks gathered around the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments [to which PLATFORMA and CEMR belong], and 5 are from Member States. Under the appointment of the UN Secretary-General, the Advisory Group has two co-chairs: Ms. Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malick, President of Nouakchott Region, Mauritania, and Ms. Pilar Cancela Rodríguez, State Secretary for International Cooperation, Spain.
The first meeting of the Advisory Group was convened by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, and attended by Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary of the UN, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Guy Ryder, Under-Secretary-General for Policy and the team from the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and the Development Planning Unit. All members from the Advisory Group attended the meeting, including the 5 representatives from Member States.
“In this context of multistakholder multilateralism, the work of the group will be a crucial contribution to navigate multilevel governance matters by ensuring informed, timely and transparent inputs into the relevant intergovernmental processes, while fostering cooperation between sub-national and national governments across the UN system”, said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.
The meeting agreed on the importance of localization to achieve the rescue plan of the SDGs.
Towards the Summit of the Future
The Advisory Group is expected to contribute to the Summit of the Future through several deliverables, among others: a guidance note related to enhancing institutional mechanisms to strengthen the engagement of local and regional governments in intergovernmental processes; a policy brief with strategic guidance and policy advocacy, to strengthen cooperation between national and local and regional governments, and UN Country Teams; and a set of recommendations to the Secretary-General, to inform the deliberations of Member States in the lead up to the Summit of the Future, with a view to advise on a United Nations global strategy for the engagement of local and regional governments.
While the work of the group will go throughout the coming year towards the Summit of the Future, its scope goes beyond that point, aiming to provide recommendations to further develop a renewed structural engagement of the local and regional government constituency with the United Nations.
The Advisory Group will meet with the Secretary General on three occasions. It will interact with platforms that advance local governments engagement, including those led by local or regional governments, Member States, or UN entities, such as the World Assembly on Local and Regional Governments, Advisory Committee for Sustainable Urbanization, United Nations Advisory Committee on Local Authorities (UNACLA), the Local 2030 Coalition of the Decade of Action, and the Local and Regional Governments Forum.
The Advisory Group is ready to bring its views to face the challenges of trust by bringing people closer to public institutions, through mechanisms that include young people, women and all citizens in decision-making.