Management of Human Settlements and Cities has never been an easy issue. As they are growing by unprecedented rates transforming our planet from the world with rural way of life into the world with urban structure, the role of local governments has become more and more important. More than ever before local governments need the support of central governments and more than ever before they should be one voice to assure that pressing problems have been taken into consideration.
Since the beginning of the 20th century the International Union of Local Governments (IULG) established in 1913 had carried out significant work in the field of development of international relations at municipal level and strengthening of local administrative institutions. Later in 1957 the World Federation of United Cities (WFUC) that cooperated closely with IULG and implemented such tasks was established.
At the beginning of the new millennium these organizations decided to unite their efforts in the activity of strengthening and development of local self-government and enhancement of its relevance around the world. 02-05 May, 2004 was determined as the date of the Constituent Congress of new World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments (WO UCLG). The Unifying Committee was established. It included representatives of Eurasia, as well as Mayor of Kazan Kamil Iskhakov who subsequently became one of the vice-presidents of the World Organization UCLG.
According to the developed draft Statutes of the World Organization UCLG, the full-fledged members of the organization were acknowledged the Regional sections. It was necessary to organize constituent sessions of Regional sections of UCLG where the delegates for the Congress of the World Organization were elected.
Representatives of Eurasia actively participated in the work of the Unifying Committee and alongside prepared for the Constituent session of the Euro-Asian Regional Section of the World Organization of UCLG that was agreed to be held in the capital of Tatarstan Kazan city. The consultations with the leaders of the WFUC (Ms. Mersedes Bresso) and IULG (Mr. Alan Lloyd) were held. Documents prepared by the work group of the Unifying Committee and secretariats of two organizations, draft Statutes of the World Organization UCLG, temporary provision and division into regions were studied.
The draft of the Deed of incorporation and Statutes of the Euro-Asian Regional Section of the organization of United Cities and Local Governments were developed on the basis of provisions of the draft Statutes of the World Organization UCLG.
Initially our region was suggested the name “Russian and New Independent States” but during the preparation the organizing committee made amendments and applied to the Unifying Committee with request to define the region as Euro-Asia, since all regions got their names according to the geographical names of continents and parts of the world but not countries or their political unions. Further the name “Euro-Asian Regional Section” was supported by participants of the Constituent session of the section that took place on April 01-03, 2004 in Kazan.
The constituent session was held with the support of International Association of Capitals and Large Cities, Russian Union of Historical Cities and Regions. The founders of the new international organization were the Congress of Municipal Entities of the Russian Federation, Association of Communes of Armenia, Union of Local Governments of Kyrgyz Republic, Association of Siberian and Far-Eastern Cities, Union of Polar Circle and Far North Cities, cities of Ulaan-Baatar, Yekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk and many others. As can be seen, the activity of the unions of cities covers both European and Asian parts of the Eurasian continent.
Ms.Elizabeth Gato, Secretary General of the World Organization “United Cities and Local Governments” that rendered us support took part in the work of the Constituent session of the World Organization of UCLG.
Managerial bodies were elected at the Constituent session of the Euro-Asian Regional Section of the WO UCLG: Euro-Asian Regional Council, President of the Regional Section (Mayor of Kazan Kamil Iskhakov), and Secretary General of the Regional Section (Rasikh Sagitov). Also elections of the representatives of the Euro-Asian Regional Section into the World Council and Executive Bureau of the World Organization UCLG in the amount of 36 and 12 persons correspondingly according to the quote took place. All seats reserved for Euro-Asian Section by the Organizing Committee were filled.
The resolution was adopted that the headquarters of the regional section would be located in Kazan.
During the preparation for the Constituent Congress of the World Organization UCLG that took place on 02-05 May, 2004 in Paris, the Euro-Asian Regional Section actively cooperated with the World Secretariat headed by Ms.Elizabeth Gato and contributed to the organization and holding of this truly historical forum of cities. It should be noted that the delegation of Eurasia that was headed by the President of the section and that included mayors of Moscow, Yekaterinburg and other cities was one of the most numerous and united. The delegation managed to organize effectively its work at the Congress as many issues were discussed and resolved at the Constituent session in Kazan during the preparation for the Constituent Congress in Paris.
Subsequently, close contacts were established with European Secretariat for the purpose of organization of work for exchange of experience. Linkages with UN-Habitat were actively developed.
It should be noted that Kazan has sufficient experience related to the organization of cities’ international activity. For instance, the headquarters of the Euro-Asian regional section of the International Organization of World Heritage Cities that today is actively operating and is a part of the Euro-Asian Regional Section of UCLG was established in Kazan in 2003. As it is known, the Organization of World Heritage Cities – one of the most effectively operating international organizations – is a part of the World Organization “United Cities and Local Governments”. In the activity of the Euro-Asian Regional Section UCLG we to a large extent draw on the experience of the headquarters of the Euro-Asian Regional Section of the Organization of World Heritage Cities.
The extraordinary General Assembly of the Euro-Asian Regional Section UCLG was held in the framework of the World Habitat Day on October 04, 2006 in Kazan. The Assembly was to take place in 2007, but due to the fact that the World Secretariat of UCLG recommended to hold General Assemblies of regional sections in the year preceding the World Congress of UCLG (the next Congress would take place in 2007 in South Korea) as well as due to the number of urgent matters such as early termination of powers of the President of the Euro-Asian section Kamil Iskhakov, the decision was made to hold the General Assembly of the Euro-Asian Regional Section of UCLG in conjunction with the World Habitat Day in Kazan.
At the Extraordinary General Assembly the report on the activity of the Euro-Asian Section for 2004-2006 and the report of the audit commission were reviewed, a number of resolutions concerning the representatives of the Euro-Asian section in the World Council and Executive Bureau of the World Organization of UCLG were adopted. New President of the Euro-Asian Section was elected. Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin became the President of the Euro-Asian Section. The candidature of Ilsur Metshin was nominated on the initiative of ex-president who highlighted the significant contribution of Mayor of Kazan to the organization of the activity of UCLG-Eurasia headquarters and paid attention to the fact that Kazan as the center of the Euro-Asian section fulfills its obligations before the World Organization UCLG, pays fees for the whole section out of its budget. The candidature of Metshin was also supported by the members of the Council of the Euro-Asian Section.
The meeting of the council of the Euro-Asian Regional Section UCLG took place in the framework of the General Assembly. Thereon new members of UCLG-Eurasia that filed an application for admission since the preceding meeting of the Council were officially approved. Proposals on the new composition of UCLG were discussed as due to different circumstances several members of the Council would not be able to continue their work. These proposals were approved at the General Assembly.
II World Congress of United Cities and Local Governments “Changing Cities are Driving our World” took place in Jeju (South Korea) on 28-31 November, 2007. Over 2000 persons took part in the work of the Congress. Among them were the leaders of local governments from 156 countries-members of UCLG, leading figures of international organizations. In the framework of II World Congress UCLG 3 plenary and 21 parallel sessions took place. Working sessions were held on 29 and 29 October. At the session of the Euro-Asian section of UCLG the elections of Secretary General took place. Adviser of the Mayor of Kazan Rasikh Sagitov was re-elected for a period of 3 years.
Members of the Council approved the Cooperation Contract concluded earlier with Asian-Pacific Section UCLG. The Meeting of the Council concluded with the ceremony of award of the following cities with UN-Habitat diplomas for achievement: administration of Khabarovsk was awarded for “effective industrial and economic policy”, the head of the project “Khlynovskiye Chambers” Morozov from the city of Kirov was awarded for the “contribution to the preservation of historical and cultural heritage”.
The Congress of Eurasia Local Governments dedicated to the celebration of the millennium of Yaroslavl took place on 28-30 May, 2009 in Yaroslavl. The central event of the congress was the General Assembly of the Euro-Asian Section of UCLG. Mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin was re-elected President of Euro-Asian Regional Section of UCLG. It was agreed that the next meeting of the Council of the Euro-Asian Section would be held within the framework of the third World Congress of UCLG in Mexico in 2010.
On 17-20 November, 2010 in the city of Mexico the Third World Council of UCLG took place. The Summit gathered about three thousand representatives of local and regional governments from 700 cities and 136 countries of the world. The issues of crises and climate changes were discussed most acutely at the forum.
During the Congress the new composition of the World Council and Executive Bureau of the organization was elected. Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas became a new President of UCLG, Ilsur Metshin was elected Co-President of the organization. Along with Mayor of Kazan Mayor of Lisbon (Portugal), Guangzhou (China) and San Jose (Costa Rica) took the posts of Co-Presidents.
2013 and 2014 were celebratory years for UCLG
2013 marked on hundred years since the start of the International Municipal Movement. And 2014 UCLG marks ten years since the main associations of local and regional governments came together to form United Cities and Local governments. Also it is a year of the 70th anniversary of the international movement of twin-cities.
In 2013, in honor of the centenary of the International Municipal movement UCLG brought together more than 3,000 local and regional leaders at the World Summit in Rabat, Morocco. Celebrations dedicated to anniversary and the large-scale exhibition detailing the first 100 years of our movement were held during the forum.
During the meeting of the World Council of UCLG on 4th of October in Rabat, Mayor of Istanbul (Turkey), Kadir Topbaş was re-elected as President of the organization. As UCLG Co-Presidents were elected Ilsur Metshin, Mayor of Kazan (Russia), Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux (France), Augusto Barrera, Mayor of Quito (Ecuador), Jacqueline Moustache Belle, Victoria (Seychelles), Chen Jianhua, Mayor of Guangzhou (China). Mayor of Yakutsk (Russia), Aysen Nikolaev was elected as Vice-President of UCLG.
A new section for Regions that will be led by ORU-FOGAR was created by the decision of the UCLG World Council.
Moreover, the Third Global Report of UCLG on Decentralization and Local Democracy (GOLD III) on the theme "Basic services for all in an Urbanizing World” was presented in 2013.
During the 10 years of its existence, the UCLG has implemented many projects and programs aimed at the development of local self-government and sustainable urban development. The fact that we bring the voice of local governments to the world level and now the opinion of local authorities is taken into account in global decision making processes may be noted as important result of our work. Today UCLG has proved itself as an influential global organization responding to interests of municipalities of the world and modern demands of development of humanity.
In 2014 the Eurasian section of UCLG enlisted the support of Rossotrudnichestvo - The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation. On XXIII meeting of the heads of subjects of the Russian Federation at the Russian Foreign Ministry, it was decided to "recommend to the subjects of Russian federation and municipalities to intensify work in the international structures that affect the integration processes in the CIS, in particular, the Eurasian regional section of the World Organization "United Cities and Local Governments".
The most significant event of 2014 was the visit of the UCLG President Kadir Topbas in Kazan and Yakutsk. June 21, 2014, Kadir Topbas visited Kazan - the capital of the Turkic world in 2014, and took part in the celebration of the Tatar national holiday "Sabantuy."
Considering the importance of Agenda 21 for Culture, we highlight the culture as one of the most important activities of Eurasian section. Our important partner is the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). August 24-27, in the city of Aktau of Republic of Kazakhstan jointly with OWHC we organized the 7th International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities dedicated to the protection and use of historical and cultural heritage of Eurasia. The conference was held under the auspices of UNESCO. Conference was attended by more than 275 people from 45 cities and 10 countries. Meeting of the Council of the Eurasian section of UCLG was held at the conference.
The most important event in 2015 for the whole world became the adoption at the Summit in New-York of Sustainable Development Goals that superseded the Millennium Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals must be achieved by 2030. UCLG actively participated in their elaboration. President of UCLG Kadir Topbas represented the interests of local governments in the High-Level of Panel that was engaged in the elaboration of goals. The fact that UCLG promoted the inclusion of the Autonomous Goal 11 on the sustainable urban development can be considered as a historical event. Undoubtedly this was achieved due to the members of the organization. We express gratitude to the cities that in 2014 responded and send letters of support for the inclusion of the autonomous goal of sustainable urban development.
The main event of 2016 for Eurasian section was the session of the Executive Bureau of UCLG in Kazan. For the first time the session of the World organization was held in the Eurasian city that was of great strategic importance for development of UCLG in the region.
The most important event of 2016 for the World Organization became the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. Over 4000 participants from more than 100 countries gathered together on 12-15 October in Bogota (Colombia) under the slogan “Local Governments for the Better World”.
The elections of new leadership of UCLG took place on October 15, 2016. Mpho Parks Tau, President of the Association of Local Governments of the Southern Africa and Member of the City Council of Johannesburg, was elected President of UCLG by 2019.
Co-Presidents of UCLG were elected Tahir Akyürek, Mayor of Konya (Turkey), Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona (Spain), Wen Guohui, Mayor of Guangzhou (China), Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg (France), President of the organization “United Cities of France”, Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito (Ecuador); Ann Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, President of the Standing Committee for Gender Equality.
Mayor of Yakutsk, Aysen Nikolaev was nominated as UCLG Vice-President from Eurasian section of UCLG.
The 4th Global Report on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD IV) was presented during the summit in Bogota.