On the 16th of June 2014, a successful training event for the UCLG Champions was held by the CIB Working Group in Liverpool, United Kingdom. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the progress in activities undertaken by the Champions to promote the key messages of the UCLG Policy Paper, and to analyse the various events they attended at the local level, the national level and the international level.
Since the last Champions meeting in January 2014 at the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International) in The Hague, the Netherlands, various international meetings have been attended by the Champions, as well as meetings at regional and national levels. This follow up training was therefore organised to exchange experiences amongst the Champions, CIB Working Group and the UCLG World Secretariat, in order to improve the effectiveness of the activities undertaken by the Champions.
The attending Champions were Ms. Célestine Ketcha Courtes, Mayor of the municipality of Baganté in Cameroon, Mr. Tunc Soyer, Mayor of the municipality of Izmir in Turkey, Ms. Nomveliso Nyukwana, Mayor of the municipality of Emalahleni in South Africa, and Mr. Berry Vrbanovic, Councilor of Kitchener, and Honorary Past President of the FCM.
Based on the events that the Champions attended so far, suggestions and new ideas were provided on how to improve the effectiveness of the activities of the Champions during the meetings. As became clear in the last meeting in January, the "talking tool", which includes bottom-up stories and examples from Champions, is a fundamental part of carrying out the message. The Champions agreed on two other main points of attention, to strengthen local authorities:
- The creation of solidarity at the local level; and
- The reinforcement of local production. The reinforcement of local production can be established by educating local citizens, introducing them to modern techniques and to unify them into corporations. This creates confidence within the local population, which can increase local democracy. Strengthening the local governments also contributes to sustainable development.
The main discussions during this meeting were about how to involve local governments, how to improve the relations between civil society and national governments, what the priorities are, and how local governments can contribute to that. These are some of the key questions on localising policies and prioritisation.
The Executive Bureau meeting also took place in Liverpool that week, which aimed at providing UCLG members with networking opportunities with different stakeholders. Several sessions were organised around this event, such as the Champions training. On the 17th of June, Ms. Ketcha Courtes and Ms. Nomveliso took part in sessions on localising the Post-2015 agenda and prioritising, to elaborate further on the discussed topics at the Champions training. In relation to the Millennium Development Goals, Ms. Nyukwana stressed the importance of the targets for access to education and gender equality.
"The municipality has a task to think about innovative ways of job creations and food security. We need to localise our production. These are absolute priorities. But sustainability is an issue: projects are being started and closed, but continuity is hardly ever ensured," said Ms. Nyukwana. "Strengthening local governments is crucial to achieve development goals", she continued. Ms. Nyukwana stressed the importance of cooperation between the national, provincial and city level officials, to strengthen the capacities of local governments and to reach the Post-2015 development goals.