On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory and the establishment of the United Nations as its outcome, UCLG, upon request of the UN, is preparing a Report on the vision of local and regional leaders of the future. The issues of maintaining and strengthening international peace, ensuring collective security, the development of international cooperation and promotion of global social and economic progress addressed in this report are relevant today, in the context of the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
This report was discussed by local and regional governments of the Eurasian region on April 28, 2020. This meeting was moderated by Secretary General of UCLG-Eurasia Rasikh Sagitov. Vice-President of UCLG-Eurasia, Mayor of Astrakhan Alena Gubanova welcomed the participants: “Today, I am attaching a particular meaning to my welcoming address. While the whole world is combating coronavirus, the most important thing is health. If we are healthy, we will be able to solve any problems!”
Talking about main current global trends and challenges, Deputy Mayor of Nur-Sultan Malika Bekturova focused on the digitalization of state and municipal services and presented the practice of Nur-Sultan related to the introduction of the SmartAstana service, which will help to verify the authenticity of issued medical certificates and records.
Deputy of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, ex-mayor of Bolgar Kamil Nugaev discussed the issue of villages preservation and the outflow of people to big cities. “Me, and not only me, many people are afraid of the fact that no one will live in rural areas over time. This is a very serious problem not only for our country, but for the whole world as well. If everyone lives in cities, then who will make agricultural products?” Kamil Nugaev addressed the participants.
Proceeding with the issue of internal migration, Head of Leninsky District of Bishkek Toktosun Sultanov noted: ‘The coronavirus pandemic has identified a big problem in our city. This problem is that a lot of people not officially employed come to Bishkek to earn money. And nowadays, during a thirty-day quarantine, we are trying to provide them with timely assistance.’
The coronavirus pandemic has affected events of UCLG-Eurasia planned for this year. Thus, Minister of External Relations of the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic Gavril Kirillin highlighted that due to the circumstances occurred X International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities that was to take place in this June in Yakutsk is postponed for the next year. Besides, Gavril Kirillin stressed the role of regional governments in the implementation of global agreements, among which the Paris Climate Agreement worth special mentioning.
Head of the International Department of Ulaanbaatar Dash Chinzoring told about the plan of the city for the introduction of a citizen-oriented policy so that all residents of Ulaanbaatar could live, study and work in comfortable and safe environment.
Mayor of Comrat Sergey Anastasov continued the debate. According to him, by 2045 it is necessary to address main ecological issues, and urban planning should definitely include construction of parks and green areas.
Vice-Mayor of Osh Zhasur Azimov made an assumption that urban population would increase twice by 2045, and, thus, urbanization would become one of the most large-scale transformations of the 21st century’s trends.
President of the Association of Communities of Armenia, Vice-President of the Council of Local and Regional Authorities of the Congress of the Council of Europe Emin Eritsyan emphasized that to consolidate joint efforts to build the future it is important to understand the role of local and regional governments as structures that are on the frontline of challenges we are facing.
Continuing to talk about strengthening the role of local and regional governments, Chairman of the Ulyanovsk City Council Ilya Nozhechkin highlighted: ‘Nothing can be done while you do not have resources, while there is no structured budget system allowing local governments to be strong and relatively independent concerning the issues being regarded today. Therefore, unified standards of municipalities’ budgeting, building a tax system should be enshrined at the international level.’
Vice-Mayor of Nizhnekamsk Elvira Dolotkazina raised the issue of gender equality. “The research conducted by UCLG-Eurasia on 48 major Eurasian cities shows that only in 6 per cent of cities the executive body is headed by women. City councils are headed by women only in 9 per cent of cities. I hope that by 2045 these disappointing figures will have been shifted towards the female half of the populaiton,” said Elvira Dolotkazina.
The next speaker was Chairman of the City Council of Deputies Vladimir Korbut. ‘If one virus could destroy the world economy within several weeks, this shows that we should think about a long-term perspective taking into consideration possible risks and scenarios of their development,’ noted Vladimir Korbut talking about the economic part of the issue.
Vice-Mayor of Kazan Evgeniya Lodvigova concluded the meeting, having highlighted that all initiatives proposed by the participants are extremely significant under the current circumstances. ‘It is necessary that local governments are represented in the UN not only as a consultative body but as a special structure, assembly. Undoubtedly, UCLG’s role is significant in achieving this”, stressed Evgeniya Lodvigova.
Based on the results of this meeting, as well as the discussion among heads of Eurasia local and regional governments’ associations held on April 21, 2020, the Secretariat of UCLG-Eurasia will develop proposals to be incuded in the common report of UCLG. In September 2020, this Report on the vision of local and regional leaders of the future should be presented at the UN General Assembly in New York.