Ninth Cities Alliance Public Policy Forum opens in Barcelona

Barcelona, January 21, 2009: Mayor Jordi Hereu of Barcelona last night played chief host to participants from all over the world in Barcelona to attend the Ninth Cities Alliance Public Policy Forum (PPF), jointly organised this year by the Alliance, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Municipality of Barcelona.

Against the backdrop of the ornate 14th century Salo de Cent (council chamber) in the gothic façaded Barcelona City Hall, with its opulent wall hangings in the Catalan colors of yellow and red, Mayor Hereu outlined the city’s significance to the history and economic development of Spain, and of the Catalan region in particular.
He also pledged the city’s continuing support to urban development cooperation and of the significant role of local governments in the process.

On a day when Barack Obama was inaugurated the 44th President of the United States the mayor drew analogies with the new the President’s speech, concluding with a call for the “renewal and strengthening” of the decentralisation process for greater empowerment of municipalities.

Mayor Hereu was joined in his welcome by his two other co-hosts, Elisabeth Gateau, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Government, and William Cobbett, Manager of the Cities Alliance.

Ms. Gateau provided the contextual background for the theme of the Public Policy Forum, “Local Government Perspective of Development Aid Efficiency, from the Paris Declaration to the recent Accra Plan of Action outlining the role of local governments as represented by UCLG in the process.

“Local government involvement in the debate has been assured by UCLG’s membership of OECD’s working group on Development Effectiveness” she added. She also expressed her deep appreciation of the city of Barcelona for hosting the headquarters of the UCLG for the past four years.

Billy Cobbett also thanked both the city of Barcelona and UCLG for hosting the PPF, made more prescient by the fact that Spain is one of the newest members of the Cities Alliance. The focus on development effectiveness in the PPF goes back to our founding mandate as captured in the Alliance charter, “to help enhance coherence of effort.”

Outlining the programme for the PPF, Mr. Cobbett hoped the dialogue will not only highlight the challenges facing this cooperation from the major perspectives of the city, the state, the donor agency and the national government, but also point to approaches to meeting these challenges to strengthen development cooperation.

Representing the Spanish national government, Ambassador Francisco Montalbán welcomed all participants. He described the Spanish government’s decision to join Cities Alliance as being borne out of the conviction that the future of development is urban and to reinforce Spanish Development Cooperation activities in urban development.

The UN-HABITAT representative and Executive Director, Regional Technical Cooperation Division of the UN-HABITAT, Daniel Biau underscored the significant role the city has played in supporting urban development cooperation , including its successful hosting of the second session of the World Urban Forum.

His World Bank counterpart, Hartwig Schafer, Director of Operations, Sustainable Development Network Vice Presidency of the World Bank reinforced the fact that the only way to reach the poor was through local authorities. He assured of the World Bank’s strengthened commitment to urban development cooperation and to the Cities Alliance programme in particular.

The opening ceremony was concluded with the showing of a video on the city of Barcelona’s experience in development cooperation, followed by a reception at the city hall hosted by the mayor.

 

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