UN’s Sustainable Development Goals should spur EU to focus more on working with cities in developing world.
The European Union should increase its cooperation with local and regional authorities in the developing world if the United Nations is to achieve its goal of making cities more “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” by 2030, the European Committee of the Regions argues in an opinion adopted on 8 February.
The opinion was drawn up at the CoR’s initiative, with the aim of contributing to the European Union’s ongoing review of the European Consensus on Development. The Consensus, which was adopted in 2005, is being revised and updated to reflect the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2016-30 agreed by the United Nations in 2015.
Jesús Gamallo Aller (ES/EPP), the director-general for external relations for the regional government of Galicia, said: “The United Nations has recognised that cities and regions must be given a bigger role if we are to bring hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty and to improve the life chances of everyone. Local governments provide many of our most basic services, they can help identify and remedy problems, and we cannot have peaceful and well-governed societies if we do not try to tackle inequality and social problems in our cities. And, as we know, the world is becoming more urban. A fast-urbanising world requires more urban responses to development challenges. The EU is the leading provider of development aid, and it should lead in the process of mobilising local governments to contribute to the meeting the UN’s targets. That is why we decided to write this opinion.”
Mr Gamallo Aller, who drafted the opinion for the CoR, said that the EU should promote alliances between local and regional authorities. He said this should be part of a broader shift in the way the EU cooperates with partners in other parts of the world. The opinion calls on the EU to involve lower-level governments more in its support for development outside Europe, to work more with regional and multilateral organisations and to engage more with “South-South” initiatives established between partners in the globe’s poorer, southern hemisphere.
The opinion suggests that the EU should involve local and regional authorities in the framing and implementation of development programmes. It also argues that the EU could make coordination, integration and flexibility easier by making greater use of direct budget support – the transferring of funds directly to recipients’ budgets – and of EU Trust Funds, to which EU member states, international organisations and private donors can opt to contribute.
Note to editors:
- Jesús Gamallo Aller (ES/EPP) is the long-serving director-general for external relations and relations with the European Union in the Regional Government of Galicia. He is director of the Galicia-Europe Foundation. A lawyer by training, he has also worked at the European University Institute in Florence and as a professor of public administration.