Appointment of Josep Roig as UCLG Secretary General

The UCLG Executive Bureau meeting in Rabat appointed Josep Roig, as UCLG Secretary General following an international recruitment process.

Josep Roig, Secretary General of Metropolis since 2000, has been involved in the Metropolitan Section of UCLG as a founding and active member since 1985. Economist by education, he has worked at the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona in different positions and was Executive Director of the University of Barcelona during the period 1990-1994.

At his appointment speech before 216 local government leaders from 40 countries, Mr.  Roig expressed his gratitude for the challenging task entrusted to him and the need to strengthen UCLG´s role as network of networks working towards advocacy action and innovation.

Josep Roig  will be assuming his new responsibilities upcoming September. Until then, Mr. Clarence Anthony will continue his work as Interim Manager of UCLG.


214 local and regional leaders from 40 countries come together in Rabat

The 12th UCLG Executive Bureau, hosted by the City of Rabat (Morocco), was officially opened on Thursday 23rd June by Fathallah Oualalou, Mayor of Rabat. Counting with over 300 participants, including 200 local and regional leaders from 40 countries from all continents, the Executive Bureau took place from 22 to 24 June in the capital city of Morocco.

The UCLG Executive Bureau comprises 115 members from around the world and meets twice a year. This statutory meeting was the first meeting of the Executive Bureau after the renewal of the Governing Bodies in Mexico last November.

One of the main decisions of the Bureau was the appointment of Josep Roig, Secretary General of Metropolis, as the new Secretary General of UCLG. The President of UCLG, Kadir Topbas, expressed the trust that the Organisation was putting in Mr Roig´s great capacity to carry forward the work of UCLG. The appointed Secretary General expressed his honour to be selected and his intention to work with all members and regions to make the World Organisation stronger.

The Executive Bureau was chaired by Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul (Turkey) and President of UCLG, by Co-President Antonio Costa, Mayor of Lisbon (Portugal) and by Fathallah Oualalou, Mayor of Rabat (Morroco).

On Thursday 23rd, the opening session was dedicated to local and regional governments´ working towards innovation, with presentations of Wan Qingliang, Co-President of UCLG and Mayor of Guangzhou (China), Anne-Marie Jorritsma, Mayor of Almere (Netherlands) and President of the Association of Dutch Municipalities, as well as special guests of the World Bank, Cities Alliance and representatives of national governments and financial institutions.

In his opening address, the President of UCLG, Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul, summarised the efforts of the UCLG Presidency to work on three pillars: leading the organisation; promoting membership and bringing the voice of the World Organisation before the international community. President Topbas mentionned the need to promote strong local democratic governments at the service of the citizens worldwide. He stressed the positive developments in UCLG relations with the UN and he quoted Ban Ki Moon who defined UCLG as a global ally of the United Nations in recent meetings with US mayors. He further highlighted the important work before us in updating the sustainability agenda, introducing culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, renewing the aid effectiveness agenda and addressing the issue of health and access to basic services.

The Executive Bureau further agreed to create a Standing Committee on Gender Equality in order to truly push forward the participation of women in local decision making and to boost up the role of women leaders in all the work of UCLG.

The regional workshop on financing infrastructure investment in Africa brought together 80 local leaders of most countries in the continent and made recommendations on urban infrastructure finance in Africa. 

Members further agreed to devote the Third Global Report on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD III) to the Governance of Local Public Services. The Executive Bureau also dedicated a full day to redefining strategic priorities of the Organization after the first six years of existence.

The UCLG leadership called for solidarity and denounced the situation of the civilian populations which are suffering oppression and destruction by their governments, in particular currently in some countries of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) is the biggest organization of local and regional governments in the world. UCLG represents and defends the interests of local governments on the world stage, regardless of the size of the communities they serve. UCGL´s mission is to be the united voice and world advocate of democratic local self-government, promoting its values, objectives and interests, through cooperation between local governments, and within the wider international community.

Bilbao selected as finalist to become the World Design Capital in 2014

Following deliberations on 9 June 2011, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) has the pleasure to announce on behalf of the members of the World Design Capital® (WDC) Selection Committee that the cities of Bilbao (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa) and Dublin (Ireland) have been selected as the three shortlisted cities that will move on to the next round of evaluation in the bid to becoming the World Design Capital in 2014.

In 2014 selection of World Design Capital will be the fourth appointment by Icsid of this biennial designation to a city, in recognition of its accomplishments in using design as a catalyst for development and reinvention, as well as for improving its social, cultural and economic environments.

After a comprehensive review of all bids submitted, the cities of Bilbao, Cape Town and Dublin distinguished themselves not only by demonstrating their individual approaches towards design in their cities, but also managed to convey the impact of these on the various aspects of social, cultural and economic life, as well as provided three very unique visions for how design will continue to reinvent their urban landscape. Furthermore, these cities demonstrated that they possessed the expertise, infrastructure and financial capabilities to successfully develop and implement an inspiring yearlong programme of international design related events, promoting design, as well as their city, on an international stage; and finally, illustrated how their citizens have and will continue to benefit from their cityʼs achievements in design.

"It was a difficult decision, but the WDC Selection Committee has shortlisted three incredibly well thought-out and all-together remarkable bids that have created unique competitive advantages for their cities through design," expressed Martin Darbyshire, WDC Organising Committee member and Icsid Executive Board Member. "These proposals have conveyed very workable and deliverable plans to use design as a means to reinvigorate their cityʼs social, cultural and economic development."

"The Bilbao City Hall, the Provincial Government of Bizkaia and the Basque Government would like to express their great enthusiasm on being shortlisted to be the World Design Capital in 2014," stated Iñaki Azkuna, Mayor of Bilbao. "Design innovation has become an essential tool to improve the competitiveness and quality of life in cities, and is necessary to enhance collaborative public-private environments with direct participation from the administrations, universities and different economic and professional agents. This is the direction Bilbao has followed to achieve its transformation over the past 25 years, and this designation will help continue the rejuvenation of our great city."

The next step in the process leading up to the final selection of the 2014 WDC designation is the city visits that will be conducted in July 2011 by members of the WDC Organising Committee. These site inspections will enable further information to be gathered in an attempt to provide the WDC Selection Committee with a more thorough understanding of the proposed programmes by each of the shortlisted cities prior to the final selection in August 2011.

The official announcement of the 2014 World Design Capital designated city will be on 26 October during the 2011 International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in Taipei, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei).


UN declares Internet access a human right

As evidenced by the Facebook Revolutions and ensuing Middle East turmoil, the Internet is a powerful tool and one capable of change. Of course, its eliminating citizen use of the Web under oppressive regimes has also yielded consequences. Perhaps inspired by these effects, the UN has declared the Internet a human right. A recent report titled "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression" declares that Internet access falls under freedom of expression.

"The unique and transformative nature of the Internet not only [enables] individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, but also a range of other human rights, and to promote the progress of society as a whole." Special rapporteur Frank La Rue also acknowledges that the Web has become too important a tool to asserting other human rights for people to be denied its use. "Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states."

While the report may have especially poignant significance for Middle Eastern nations, it applies internationally. "Each state should thus develop a concrete and effective policy to make the Internet widely available, accessible, and affordable to all segments of population." The US National Telecommunications and Information Association (NCIA) are collaborating with the FCC to analyze the state of broadband availability in the country. Recent findings revealed that a five to 10 percent of American cannot access Internet speeds that allow basic Web functions. So if you think this is merely a third-world problem or issue with oppressive governments, you´d be wrong.

Of course, these events are why such a policy has become relevant: "The recent wave of demonstrations in countries across the Middle East and North African region has shown thekey role that the Internet can play in mobilizing the population to call for justice, equality,accountability and better respect for human rights. As such, facilitating access to theInternet for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible, should be apriority for all States."

But is anything going to come out of this report? Last year, a BBC World Service study found that four out of five adults thought Internet access was a fundamental right, and participants from China, Mexico, Nigeria, Brazil, and South Korea were just among some of the countries that majorly agreed with this. Which means that despite these largely held beliefs, opponents are still denying people this alleged right.

The Committee launches the Smart Cities Index

In 2005 during the II World Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society held in the City of Bilbao, the local authorities committed themselves to work to achieve a full access to the Information Society in their cities and regions through the implementation of the Digital Local Agendas, a local strategy for the development of the Information Society in a region.

Now, after more than 5 years, the moment has come to make a balance. For this reason, the Committee of Digital and Knowledge Based Cities wants to support the completion of this study, so that it can constitute a starting point to know about the real state of the art referring to ICTs, Innovation and Knowledge in the Committee, and we can be able to establish some indicators that can allow us to know whether we are working in the right direction in order to achieve more competitive cities.

We encourage the Committee members and UCLG members to contribute to this study by filling the following on-line formulary before the 15th of July 2011.

In case you have any problem accessing the on-line version of the form, you can download it in the following link:

 Download Data Collection Form

Download Annex: Best practice

In case you have any problem to aces the formulary or you have any question, do not hesitate contacting the Committee Secretariat in the Email or telephone: +34 94 423 5049

Renewal of the Vice-presidencies of the Committee

As it was informed during the Committee meeting held in the City of Mexico un November 17th, 2010, during the first quarter of 2011 from the Presidency of the Committee we have carried out a renewal process of the Vice-presidencies of the Committee.

In the case of the Committee Vice-presidencies for Euro-Asia, Latin America and Africa held by the City of Ulan Bator, the National Confederation of Municipalities of Brazil (CNM), and the Association of Municipalities of Morocco (ANCLM) respectively, we are pleased to inform you that they have confirmed the renewal of their commitment to continue to leader and coordinate the work of the committee in their region.

In the case of the Vice-presidency of Europe, held by the City of Stuttgart, we were informed that it was not possible for them to keep on holding the position of Vice-president of the Committee of Digital and Knowledge-based Cities for the region of Europe.

With the objective to continue having a geographical balance in the Committee Government bodies, the City of Bordeaux in France has accepted the commitment of holding the Vice-presidency of the Committee for the region of Europe. The City of Bordeaux has broad experience in the development of the Information Society in its Territory.

Through its "Bordeaux Digital City" programme implemented in 2010, the City of Bordeaux has developed diverse digital initiatives in the city: development of services accessible through mobile internet, interactive blackboards in the schools, new web pages for the museums such as the CAPC developed with free software, implementation of 2D codes in the city that give additional information to the citizens, development of a pilot experience with more than 100 families in which they receive a computer connected to high speed internet and a training offer, launch of an extensive consulting platform, use of social networks to have a closer relation with the citizens in the fame work of the "solidary neighbors" project, development of public wifi points... in summary, a group of innovative services, that help to improve the quality of live of the Citizens.

From the Presidency of the Committee we thank the commitment acquired by the Vice-presidents and we are sure that together, with the support of the Committee members, we will be able to keep on working to reach more competitive cities and municipalities through the use of ICT, innovation and knowledge-management.