Cities Alliance Partnership Puts Cities on the Agenda at Major European Events

Cities Alliance members and partners actively promoted the key role of cities in development at European Development Days 2015 and ICLEI’s Resilient Cities event.


Cities Alliance members and partners actively promoted the key role of cities in development at two global events this June: the 2015 European Development Days (EDD15), Europe’s leading forum on international cooperation and development; and ICLEI’s Resilient Cities conference, for which the Cities Alliance was also an endorsing partner.

European Development Days

Held 3-4 June in Brussels, EDD15 was the flagship event of the European Year for Development 2015, and a high-profile forum for debate in the lead-up to the 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, where the new urban development agenda will be shaped.

As part of the debate, the Cities Alliance partnership was selected to host a high-level panel on Sustainable Cities: Good for the Global North, But Not for the Global South? together with UN-Habitat, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), and United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA).

Moderated by UCLGA Secretary General Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi in his capacity as Chairman of the Cities Alliance Board, the panel was a strong, diverse one that offered range of perspectives on urbanisation in developing countries:  UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos, Kenyan youth leader Ivy Langat, Monrovia Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo, SDI Chair Sheela Patel, AFD Executive Director for Strategy Philippe Orliange and the European Commission Head of Water, Energy, Infrastructures, Paolo Ciccarelli.

The key messages included:

  --  Cities are engines of future growth, but are blighted by weak policy frameworks and a lack of national government support.

  --  The benefits of urbanisation will depend on proper planning, centred around citizens.

  --  There is no magic bullet for urban planning, but efforts should start with national policy, followed by participation and consultation of people living in the cities.

Slum dwellers are the new stakeholders of cities in the developing world. About 70 per cent of cities in Africa consist of slums whose residents have been sidelined for too long.

  --  To improve the conditions of slum dwellers, programmes must be developed around their priorities. The process must be driven by demand.

Cities Alliance members and partners also hosted panels on cities, including Megatrend urbanisation: Bridging the divide between rural and urban development (GIZ, Cities Alliance, and Regionalverband Stuttgart); Urban journalism academy: Media training (UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance); The human scale: For people-centric sustainable cities (Bozar, UN-Habitat, Arterial Network, and Gehl Architects); and Solid ground: Access to land for vulnerable people in developing countries (Habitat for Humanity, Cities Alliance, SAIC, UN-Habitat, CEU, and SSDI).

Resilient Cities

The Cities Alliance was an endorsing partner for ICLEI’s 6th Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation, which was held 8-10 June in Bonn. The theme of resilience has become a significant focus for the Cities Alliance, both through our Future Cities Africa programme and our Resilient Cities Joint Work Programme.

The partnership was selected to host a panel session on “Innovative Resilience Planning in Africa's Growing Cities” as part of the conference’s main programme. Facilitated by Simon Ratcliffe of DFID, the panel brought together city officials from Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique and Ethiopia – four Cities Alliance Country Programme countries that are on the front lines of multiple climate risks, acute shocks and chronic socio-economic stresses.

The panelists discussed integrated approaches that catalyse community, city and national government in order to make developing cities more resilient and equitable. They included: Yitbarek Mengiste, Head of the Minister's Advisory Office at Ethiopia’s Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction (MUDHCo); Kedir Shurea, Head of MUDHCo’s Policy and Programme Bureau; Chakil Aboobacar, Advisor to the Mayor, Municipality of Nacala-Porto, Mozambique; and Samuel Mabala, Country Team Leader for the Uganda Office, Cities Alliance.

During the ICLEI event, members of the Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme on Resilient Cities took the opportunity to meet and discuss partnering with the Medellin Collaboration on Urban Resilience (MCUR), a group of 10 organisations formed at the World Urban Forum 2014 to align efforts in support of resilient cities.