Local and regional authorities at the forefront of the fight against inequalities
GOLD VI - Recommendations for achieving urban and territorial equality
The GOLD VI report, entitled « Pathways to urban and territorial equality: Tackling inequalities through local transformation strategies », is a collective effort to place inequalities at the centre of urban and territorial issues. The report actively seeks ways to address inequalities through local transformation strategies. GOLD VI is an action-oriented report. It aims to understand the state of urban and territorial inequalities in the world and to promote the central role of local and regional governments (LGRs) in addressing this global problem. We present here the general conclusion of the GOLD VI report.
For the local and regional government (LRG) movement, it is no longer an option to allow inequalities to grow. Inequalities have multifaceted impacts in cities and territories: intensifying and creating new forms of social segregation, urban segmentation and regional marginalization; amplifying disaffection and unrest; and limiting opportunities for structurally marginalized people to live dignified and fulfilling lives. LRGs have a duty to take action and use all their capacities to lead and support transformative local forces that can address inequalities through local strategies and thereby ensure local populations a just and sustainable future, and the respect, fulfilment and protection of their human rights. Current approaches to framing global inequalities tend to minimize the fundamental role that local action, strategies and knowledge can play in tackling the territorial manifestations of inequalities.
These approaches also underestimate the importance of local attempts to deal with some of the underlying causes behind social and economic disparities. This Report is a collective effort to position the role of LRGs at the forefront of the construction of more equal futures. It recognizes their function as key players in the articulation of diverse partnerships, in supporting citizen-led initiatives, in promoting long-term sustainable visions and radical democratization, and in providing the basic conditions for collective life to flourish. This is a challenging task and, as important as local action is, responses to inequalities led by LRGs need to be firmly embedded within wider strategies, working at different scales, that can tackle the structural conditions that drive inequalities. Although many of these structural trends go beyond the competences of local authorities, local communities are the first to be hit by inequalities. This means that LRGs require adequate support and recognition from national structures at different levels in order to respond to them, including appropriate enabling environments and capabilities. This implies having the necessary financial, political and administrative mechanisms to advance equality-enhancing, transformative actions at the local level. This task is, however, backed up by a global architecture of important dialogue, commitments and agreements. This has permitted the recognition of both the centrality of the equality agenda, and the importance of grounded and territorial action, which are important ways of helping to achieve the objective of sustainable development. As discussed in the previous chapters of this Report, the centrality of localization processes for the 2030 Agenda has led many international voices to recognize that whether or not the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda are achieved will largely be decided in cities and territories. This has led a growing number of LRGs to commit to the localization of the global agendas. What is more, many have developed voluntary local and subnational reviews to monitor and reflect upon the state of SDG localization and action being taken against climate change in their respective cities and territories1. Similarly, Human Rights City movements have focused the role of local authorities on respecting, fulfilling and protecting human rights. LRGs have a central role to play in the recognition of everyday and collective practices relating to the production and advancing of rights, and occupy a privileged position to help to expand a new generation of rights. All in all, UCLG has a commitment to acting for people, the planet and government as reflected in its Pact for the Future2. This is reinforced by other initiatives within the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments3. This speaks of an international pledge to recognize the importance of acting, thinking and implementing locally when dealing with pressing global challenges. Addressing inequalities forms a fundamental part of these UCLG commitments.
Through its different chapters, GOLD VI has discussed the space in which LRGs have taken action within this immense task. It has done this through the notion of pathways to urban and territorial equality, which are seen as trajectories for change that offer LRGs ways to act beyond sectorial silos. They also offer the possibility to define criteria for decision-making relating to future-oriented courses of action. This concluding chapter begins by revisiting the main findings that each of the pathways to equality has offered in this Report. However, it is precisely in the intersections and cumulative effects of these pathways that the most significant changes to promote equality take place. The following sections begin by offering some reflections on the challenges of upscaling these pathways in transformative ways. They then provide a composite vision that looks across the different pathways, and proposes five key principles that LRGs should consider when building pathways towards equality. These five principles are then explored further by offering a series of political recommendations to help advance urban and territorial equality. These emerge from the intersection between the different pathways and the principles discussed. This chapter concludes by offering some final reflections on the different dimensions of urban and territorial equality, and on the critical role played by LRGs which are committed to making the political choices needed to address inequalities.
1 See UCLG, “Localizing the SDGs: A Boost to Monitoring & Reporting,” Global Observatory on Local Democracy and Decentralization, 2022, bit.ly/3M8IxR0; and Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, “Who We Are,” 2021, bit.ly/3pVDdXB
2 See UCLG, “Facilitating a ‘Pact for the Future’: The Role of the International Municipal and Regional Movement Powered by UCLG,” Media, 2020, bit.ly/3zbikP6
3 See GTF, “Global Taskforce,” 2020, bit.ly/3zBpsBP