CG Meeting Reports

Berlin Meeting Report
First Meeting of the Cities Alliance Consultative Group
17 December 1999
Berlin, Germany

The meeting of the Consultative Group was co-chaired by Mr. Klaus Töpfer, Acting Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat), and Ms. Nemat Shafik, Vice President, Private Sector Development and Infrastructure, World Bank. After the co-chairs' initial remarks, the floor was given to all the delegations present around the table. The financial pledges made on the evening of December 16 were confirmed by the contributing partners, while the other delegations expressed their strong support to the Cities Alliance and their interest in this initiative.

Opening Remarks

Klaus Töpfer, Acting Executive Director, UNCHS (Habitat) - Co-Chair

Mr. Töpfer referred to his remarks of the previous evening and to the success of the inaugural event. He noted that the broad attendance at the Consultative Group was a positive signal of partners' support for the Alliance and of the potential cooperation and synergies that this initiative will generate. Mr. Töpfer welcomed all those present, and in particular the mayors and leaders of major local authority associations that represented the direct contact with the client cities and their citizens.

Nemat Shafik, Vice President, World Bank - Co-Chair
Ms. Shafik said that we are at an historic moment, for three reasons: (i) we are entering an era where most people live in cities; (ii) we are meeting in a city (Berlin) that is an inspiration for the way it has revitalized itself; and (iii) President Mandela has chosen this occasion to make his last speech of the millennium. He has set the challenge, and he has the right to demand the most of us.

The heads of each of the delegations present were invited to make opening remarks and offer any pledges of support, as briefly summarized below.

Austria. Austria is interested in this initiative and will soon express their position regarding contributing to the Alliance.

Canada. Canada has increasingly recognized the key role of urban development, in a large part through the impetus of the rich diversity of municipal actors on the national scene in Canada. Canada looks forward to participating, but the issue of financial contribution is still to be resolved.

Denmark. Denmark is increasingly interested in the problem of urbanization, and is presently developing its urban strategy. Denmark is following the Cities Alliance with interest, and will look at the possibility of a financial contribution.

Finland. Finland has had discussions about the Cities Alliance, and is considering bringing its experience in urban development into the Cities Alliance.

France. France announced a core contribution of US$250,000 for the current year, and expressed hope that it could do more next year. France also announced it would favorably consider funding a French expert through the French Consultant Trust Fund of the World Bank.

Germany. Germany reiterated that it would contribute not only financial resources (US$ 1 million) to the Alliance, but also the rich experience that it has to share and its human resource capital. The challenge is to make the Alliance a learning and knowledge-sharing mechanism.

Italy. Italy seconded what Germany said, and emphasized that it views the Cities Alliance not just as a financial mechanism of collaboration.

Japan. Japan expressed hope that its experience and expertise can be used in developing countries.

Norway. Norway expressed support to the Alliance, and said it looks forward to participating in this initiative.

Spain. Spain supports the efforts of the Alliance, but is unable to make a financial pledge at the moment. It views the meeting as a first step in the partnership.

Sweden. Sweden expressed a keen interest in participating in the Alliance, noting SIDA's large commitment to urban development. Sweden is interested in working through community-based organizations and local programs. It views the Alliance as a potential network of collective know-how, and hopes the Alliance will serve as an umbrella under which to coordinate existing urban programs. Sweden is reviewing a financial commitment to the Alliance for next year.

United Kingdom. The UK confirmed the pledge of US$ 1 million per year announced the previous evening.

United States. The US attaches great importance to scaling up upgrading and city development strategies, and applauded the inclusive orientation of the Alliance, noting that its agenda was in sync with USAID's own agenda, including three key elements of building alliances, promoting cross-sectoral programs, and building capacity.

African Development Bank. The AfDB expressed hope that it will play a more active role in the Alliance, and noted that the AfDB has had a rural focus but is increasingly focusing on urban issues.

European Commission. The Alliance is timely for the EC, which is currently developing a new urban development policy, and could look at the possibility of some parallel funding to the Alliance.

OECD. The OECD would like to contribute in-kind, through its experience in strengthening local governments in West Africa in the context of the joint Club du Sahel/MDP ECOLOC Program (Managing the Economy Locally in West Africa). It encouraged the Alliance to link slum upgrading as a component of city development strategies, and to look at the specificity of urban development in the various local realities.

UTO. Expressed strong support for the Alliance and stressed the importance of new strategies that include decentralized programs, participatory approach, and involvement of local populations in slum upgrading.

Mayor, San Fernando, Philippines. Expressed gratitude for the support that San Fernando has received from the Cities Alliance, and noted the follow-up being initiated by her city and other local authorities in the Philippines.

CEO, Johannesburg, South Africa.Suggested that it may be helpful if the Cities Alliance initially targets only few cities and then scales-up.

IULA. Reiterated their strong support for the Alliance and stressed the need to exploit existing resources and experiences.

METROPOLIS. Expressed strong support for the Alliance, and satisfaction that issues such as land tenure, women empowerment, and slum upgrading will be tackled by this initiative.

WORLD BANK. The World Bank is contributing US$ 1 million per year to the Alliance. Lending on urban issues is about 5% of the Bank's portfolio.

UNCHS (HABITAT). Habitat is contributing US$ 1.5 million to the Alliance over an initial 3-year period and sees strong synergy with its two global campaigns on security of tenure and governance.

(The Netherlands had previously announced its pledge of US$ 250,000 as core funding to the Cities Alliance.)

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